It’s A Good Time to Review Immigration Compliance

The Obama administration has cracked down on firms hiring improperly documented workers.  Approximately 1,000 companies have been notified they are to be audited for such possible hiring practices, per a Numbers USA report earlier this month.  (See link below.)  Since October of last year, the number of firms audited for I-9 compliance has totalled 2,338. (In addition to companies being fined for evading taxes or engaging in identity theft, improperly documented personnel have been let go from such places of employment.)

Last year, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) levied a stiff penalty on clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. The “better wear” firm faced a $1,047.110 fine settlement for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act “related to an employer’s obligation to verify the employment eligibility of its workers” per the government website.

The fine was in settlement of a 2008 Form I-9 inspection of the chain’s retail stores in Michigan.  Most of the deficiencies were apparently technology-related.  The stores’ electronic I-9 verification system had some major glitches, but there was no case of any administrative staffer “knowing” that these hires had taken place.

As per the ICE site, “The company was fully cooperative during the investigation and no instances of the knowing hire of unauthorized aliens were discovered. Since the initial inspection, Abercrombie & Fitch has taken measures to revise its immigration compliance program, and has begun to implement new procedures to prevent future violations of federal immigration laws.”

Basically, companies have begun to take very seriously the filling out of form I-9 by each individual who is hired. 
“Employers are required to fill out and retain” these forms, as per the government site.

In a bid to safeguard the nation’s workplace for lawful workforce applicants, ICE has tweaked its approach and will be focusing mainly on employers suspected of knowingly hiring illegal workers. And, to that effect, they’ve been getting busy.  In 2009, ICE’s site mentions that they brought a record number of civil and criminal penalties against such employers.   This might be a good time to counsel your clients to scour their hiring protocol to ensure they are compliant.

To read the Numbers USA report, go here:

http://www.numbersusa.com/content/news/june-16-2011/1000-more-companies-be-audited-ice-possibly-hiring-illegal-aliens.html

To read more on the Abercrombie & Fitch fine, see the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release here: http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1009/100928detroit.htm

To explore how you or your client can self-audit for the I-9 compliance, check out the Center of Competitive Management’s audio conference, here. (They offer a money-back guarantee.): http://www.c4cm.com/hr/i-9-selfaudit-in-14-steps-or-less.htm

-EM

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