Posts Tagged ‘Government Investigations’
Thursday, August 9th, 2012
In a decision dated June 7, 2012, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (“OCAHO”) handed down a substantial fine against a small business employer for failure to properly complete Form I-9.
In particular, Administrative Law Judge Ellen K. Thomas ruled that failure to complete Form I-9 Section 2 by reporting only List B on the I-9 constitutes a “substantive violation” of federal employment verification laws, even if photocopies of List A and/or C documents are kept in employee files. This finding is opposed to a ruling that such a failure to complete Section 2 would constitute a mere “technical violation” were lesser fines would have been imposed.
In U.S. v. Four Seasons Earthworks, the 22-person employer was served with a Notice of Inspection and Administrative Subpoena by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). Upon review of I-9s relating to 19 employees – including several family members of the family-owned business – ICE found that the employer entered information in Form I-9 Section 2 corresponding only to a List B document. Under the I-9 regulations and instructions, an employer must verify employment eligibility by inspecting a List A document (substantiating both identity and employment authorization, such as a U.S. passport) or by inspecting a List B (substantiating identity, such as a state driver’s license) and List C document (substantiating employment authorization, such as a social security card). The employer must then use those documents to fill out the form properly.
The employer argued that because it made photocopies of List A or List B and List C documents, it nonetheless complied with the regulations and any such violations should be considered to be merely technical. However, the OCAHO ruled that the regulations specifically provide that photocopying does not relieve the employer from the requirement to fully complete Section 2.
This case should serve as a warning to other employers to ensure that I-9s are properly completed and that Human Resources personnel are properly trained. It is important to note that both ICE and the employer were in agreement that each worker for the company was authorized to accept employment. Nonetheless, because the employer failed to properly complete Section 2, the violations were ruled to be substantive. Under the law, employers can face penalties ranging from $110 to $1,100 for each Form I-9 substantive violation.
In determining the level of the penalties, the ALJ found that there were mitigating factors that warranted a reduction in penalties including the following: 1) the employer was a small business; 2) it suffered an economic downturn and a related business went bankrupt; 3) it acted in good faith; and 4) its violations were not as serious as the total failure to complete an I-9 or obtain an employee signature. As such, the ALJ imposed a fine of $500 for each violation. Indeed, the employer could be considered to be fortunate to an extent considering that it could have faced a fine of $20,900 had these factors not been in its favor. Other companies in this situation might not have been so “lucky.” The case is important as it shows that even small employers with a legal workforce can face substantial fines simply because their I-9s are not properly completed.
Contact your Klasko Law attorney for guidance regarding federally mandated Form I-9 for employers and other issues relating to employment verification and worksite compliance.
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
Effective on December 23, 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is requiring the use of a new Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to file nonimmigrant petitions for employees in categories such as H-1B, L-1 and O-1. The new form contains several changes to previous editions of the form, including being more detailed about the location of the employee’s work. Most notably it requires certain petitioning employers to make an export control license attestation regarding the sponsored employee. The so-called “deemed export” attestation is made by H-1B, H-1B1 Chile/Singapore, L-1, and O-1A petitioners only.
Part 6 of Form I-129 contains the new “Certification Regarding the Release of Controlled Technology or Technical Data to Foreign Persons in the United States.” The new Certification requires the employer to certify that it has reviewed the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). The employer certifies, with respect to any technology to which the employee will have access on the job, that a license from the Department of Commerce or Department of State is not required to release the technology to the foreign national (or, in the rare case that a license is required, the employer will restrict the beneficiary’s access to the technology until a license is obtained).
What Are the EAR and ITAR Regulations?
The EAR regulations (found at 15 CFR Parts 770-774) and the ITAR regulations (found at 22 CFR Parts 120-130) prevent controlled technology with sensitive military, law enforcement, anti-terrorism, or similar applications from being exported or released to other countries. An employer who releases controlled technology or technical data to a foreign national in the course of his or her employment, even if the employment is in the United States, is deemed to have “exported” that technology to the person’s country or countries of citizenship. More detailed information on the topic of “deemed exports” is available from the Department of Commerce’s deemed export page. The EAR and ITAR regulations require employers to obtain export control licenses before releasing controlled technology or technical data to foreign nationals in the United States.
Which Employers Are Likely to Require Licenses?
Employers who are military contractors or subcontractors are most likely to be affected, but both universities and private employers will be affected by the changes to Form I-129. In general, most types of commercially-available technology are not controlled under the EAR and ITAR regulations, or are exempted from the licensing requirement because they are commercially available. However, employers dealing with certain advanced scientific and manufacturing equipment, as well as certain software and software systems, may be subject to licensing requirements for employees from certain countries, depending on whether the technology has military, law enforcement or counterterrorism applications in addition to its normal, civilian uses.
What Additional Responsibilities Are Required Now of All Petitioning Employers?
With the new I-129, all employers sponsoring H-1B, H-1B1 Chile/Singapore, L-1, and O-1A nonimmigrants must now determine whether an export control license is needed for the nonimmigrant employee before the petition can be prepared. Employers may be able to make such a determination for all employees of a particular type; for example, if an employer only hires physical and occupational therapists on H-1B visas, the employer may be able to consult an export control lawyer, or obtain an advisory opinion from the Department of Commerce, that such employment does not involve controlled technologies. For other employees, a case-by-case assessment with the assistance of an export control lawyer may be necessary.
Personnel responsible for H-1B petitions also must determine the appropriate person within the organization to contact regarding the organization’s export control compliance, who can help identify whether the technology and technical data that will be used by or available to the alien beneficiary in the course of his or her employment is controlled under the EAR and ITAR regulations . Your Klasko Law attorney can work with your in-house export control compliance specialist to help develop a protocol between Human Resources, General Counsel and others involved in the immigration process to document that the organization has reviewed the issue and determined that no license is necessary. If your organization does not have that capability in-house, we can help your organization select outside counsel to make an initial determination regarding export compliance, and help establish a clearance protocol with them if necessary.
The protocol developed will enable employer to document how and when the EAR and ITAR determination was made, and to keep that information in the H-1B employee’s file, should it ever be requested. Such documentation will then be available in the case of an audit, a site visit or a request for evidence pertaining to the employer’s export control compliance.
The deemed export control regulations are complex, but your Klasko Law attorney can help your organization get ready for the new attestations on Form I-129. If your organization sponsors H-1B, H-1B1 Chile/Singapore, L-1, and O-1A nonimmigrants, contact us to determine how the deemed export attestation will affect your organization’s immigration compliance.
Monday, November 1st, 2010
As further evidence of increased enforcement efforts by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), its Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices (“OSC”) has just announced that it reached a the settlement agreement with Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) to resolve allegations that it discriminated against non-US citizens by requiring them to provide more documentation of work authorization than is required for the purposes of the Form I-9. This type of violation is often referred to as document abuse, a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which prohibits employers from imposing different or greater employment-eligibility verification (I-9) standards on the basis of a worker’s citizenship status.
Under the terms of the settlement, CHW has agreed to pay $257 ,000 in civil penalties as well as $1,000 in back pay to the charging party. The OSC reported that this is largest amount of civil penalties ever paid to resolve such allegations. Nor do the fines and the potential for additional back-pay end there. As part of the agreement, CHW has also agreed to complete a review (conducted by employees who are independent of the routine I-9 process) of I-9s for all non-US citizens and naturalized citizens hired at all CHW hospitals and medical centers to identify each instance of over-documentation and whether employees suffered lost wages due to the document abuse. CHW agreed to issue progress reports on the review every 60 days and to provide back pay to make whole any employees who suffered lost wages as a result of document abuse within 10 days of the report. CHW also agreed to provide to OSC full documentation relating to the review as well as a final report to be reviewed by OSC to determine whether CHW was in full compliance. CHW also agreed to implement a detailed system-wide written policy describing nondiscriminatory employment eligibility verification procedures and to conduct I-9 training with annual updates.
Such actions by OSC against employers—including Universities and Hospitals—are not new. As the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stepped up I-9 audits, so has OSC increased enforcement of antidiscrimination rules as they relate to the I-9 process. As previously reported, for example, OSC recently filed suit alleging that John Jay College (“John Jay”) discriminated against non-US citizens by requiring them to provide more documentation of work authorization than is required for the purposes of the Form I-9. That lawsuit alleges that John Jay engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination, as at least 103 other people were also required to provide documentation beyond what was required and it seeks penalties of $1100 for each individual, in addition to compensation for each person who was impacted by the alleged discriminatory practice. Indeed, as we discussed previously, OSC also entered into an agreement with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to share E-Verify information. Specifically, under the agreement, the USCIS will share data obtained from queries run through E-Verify with OSC, which will allow OSC to identify potential violations of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. USCIS will also provide employer information to OSC, as necessary, when employers have engaged in potential misuse or abuse of E-Verify.
In light of these recent OSC enforcement actions, and the recent information sharing agreement, it is clear that the issue of discrimination in employment verification is a focus of both USCIS and DOJ. Employers should discuss I-9 compliance with experienced legal counsel and take all steps to ensure that employees responsible for I-9 completion are aware of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. These steps include not only training employees on the “nuts and bolts” of these processes, but also training related to potential discrimination claims.
For more information, contact Elise Fialkowski at Efialkowski@klaskolaw.com
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
This month, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton announced that ICE’s worksite enforcement numbers have climbed to historic highs with record breaking numbers of I-9 audits, fines and increased criminal prosecution of employers.
ICE announced that since January 2009, it has conducted I-9 audits of more than 3,200 US employers, more than ever before. By comparison, in fiscal year 2009—itself a banner year for I-9 audits–ICE conducted approximately 1400 audits. The audits conducted since January 2009 also resulted in record breaking penalties–ICE debarred 225 companies and individuals from doing business with the federal government and imposed approximately $50 million in sanctions for worksite enforcement violations. The increase in audits and sanctions is dramatic–ICE explained that the figures for just this year are higher than the total amount of audits and debarments for the entire Bush administration.
ICE also actively pursued criminal enforcement of employers–in fiscal year 2010, ICE charged 180 business owners, employers, managers, or supervisors with hiring illegal aliens, up from 135 in fiscal 2008 and 114 in fiscal 2009.
ICE pledged to continue aggressive enforcement against employers stating “enforcing worksite laws not only promotes fairness in the workplace, but it also substantially reduces the incentive for aliens to enter the United States illegally.”
These record breaking numbers reflect implementation of a new worksite enforcement strategy first announced by the Obama administration in April 2009. Rather than large scale raids, the new focus is on employers. As part of this strategy, ICE identified I-9 audits as an important administrative tool in building criminal cases, issuing civil penalties such as fines and bringing employers into compliance with the law. Not only will ICE use traditional criminal enforcement methods, but the guidance to the field emphasizes that administrative tools will be used “to advance criminal cases, and in the absence of criminal charges, to support the imposition of civil fines and other available penalties.” Indeed, the guidance makes clear that the “the most important administrative tool is the Notice of Inspection (NOI) and the resulting Form I-9 audit” as it will not only support the imposition of civil fines and other available penalties, but it “will often serve as an important first step in the criminal investigation and prosecution of employers.”
Consistent with this use of I-9 audits as the key administrative tool, ICE announced a nationwide initiative to audit employers’ Form I-9 employment eligibility verification records. As part of this initiative, in the first week of July 2009 alone, ICE issued Notices of Inspection (NOI) to over 650 employers across the country. In comparison, only 503 Notices of Inspection were issued in all of fiscal year 2008. As explained in earlier postings, ICE continued such widespread audits throughout the year, ultimately resulting in over 3200 audits. This widespread enforcement initiative is much different than any in the past. In the past, initiatives often focused on the most likely offenders—employers in industries such as meat-packing, construction, landscaping and manufacturing—commonly believed to regularly hire unauthorized workers. While these businesses were included within the I-9 audits, the reach was much broader to include a wide variety of businesses throughout the entire country. The message is clear—no employer is safe from an I-9 audit and investigation.
In order to avoid potential liability, employers are well advised to develop and implement detailed I-9 policies and practices. ICE recommends that employers, at a minimum, establish an internal training program, with annual updates, on how to manage completion of Form I-9 and how to detect fraudulent use of documents in the I-9 process; permit the I-9 and any E-Verify process to be conducted only by individuals who have received training; and include a review of the completed I-9 and documents by a second person as part of each employee’s verification to minimize the potential for a single individual to subvert the process. Regular audits–conducted before ICE comes knocking on the door– are also key to obtain compliance and limit liability.
For more information, contact Elise Fialkowski at Efialkowski@klaskolaw.com
Friday, October 1st, 2010
On September 28, 2010, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it reached a $1,047,110 fine settlement with the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for I-9 violations. The settlement was reached after ICE conducted an audit of the company’s I-9 records in November 2008 for stores located in Michigan.
Abercrombie & Fitch used electronic software to complete the I-9 forms and retain the appropriate records as required by the Immigration & Nationality Act. The audit revealed numerous deficiencies in the I-9 software that the company had selected. Since the initial investigation, Abercrombie & Fitch has taken steps to cure the deficiencies in its I-9 procedures to ensure that future violations do not occur.
In its press release about the settlement, Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI for Ohio and Michigan, stated that, “Employers are responsible not only for the people they hire but also for the internal systems they choose to utilize to manage their employment process and those systems must result in effective compliance…We are pleased to see Abercrombie working diligently to complete the implementation of an effective compliance system; however, we know that there are other companies who are not doing so. This settlement should serve as a warning to other companies that may not yet take the employment verification process seriously or provide it the attention it warrants.” The I-9 regulations provide that if the employer uses an electronic I-9 system and that system does not meet the standards for data capture and record-keeping, ICE may invalidate the I-9s, leaving employers like Abercrombie vulnerable to expansive fines.
Klasko reminds employers that selecting an appropriate software platform is essential for those companies making the transition to electronic completion and storage of the Form I-9. If an employer chooses to move to an electronic I-9 compliance system, the software must meet certain standards to capture the required data and retain the same content as the paper I-9. Your Klasko Law attorney is integral in both sending requests for proposals to electronic I-9 vendors and determining whether all of the elements of the paper I-9 are present in the software platform. For more information, visit our Worksite Compliance website and contact your Klasko Law attorney.
Monday, August 30th, 2010
The Department of State (DOS) Visa Office announced that the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) has started to verify information submitted in nonimmigrant petitions to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through telephonic contact with employers.
In November 2007, the DOS required Consular posts to verify information contained in approved nonimmigrant visa petitions through the Petition Information Management Service (PIMS). PIMS is operated by the KCC. When a nonimmigrant petition is filed with USCIS, a duplicate copy of the petition is scanned into the PIMS system so that a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad can access petition information through PIMS and the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) when the petition beneficiary applies for a visa stamp. The PIMS record is the primary proof that a nonimmigrant visa petition is approved. Additionally, the PIMS record may contain information from DOS’ Fraud Prevention Unit.
It has come to the attention of the DOS that the lack of information on the petitioner in the USCIS Computer Linked Information Management System (CLAIMS) system sometimes makes a CCD record incomplete. Therefore, the DOS will be conducting its own investigation of both petitioners and beneficiaries of nonimmigrant visa petitions. To verify petitioners, the KCC will review of the company website, company contact information, and use of Google earth to confirm that an office exists in an appropriate physical location. The DOS has stated that the KCC will not normally re-verify the petitioner information for two years.
To verify factual information about the beneficiary of the petition, the KCC will make random telephonic contact with the petitioning employer. The telephonic contact by KCC is unannounced and should be anticipated to occur shortly after the petition is transferred to the KCC from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The DOS has designated 15 contractors to conduct the telephonic interviews. The contractors will contact the petitioning employer, and ask to speak with an authorized representative. They will ask a series of questions including, but not limited to the following:
1. Whether the petitioner, in fact, submitted the petition;
2. When was the petitioner incorporated;
3. Where is the physical location of the petitioner;
4. Number of employees;
5. Names of shareholders;
6. Location of Attorney of Record;
7. General information regarding the petitioner’s operations and business plan.
Klasko wants to remind employers of the following points for the KCC telephonic interviews:
1. Request the name of the KCC contractor and confirm the credentials of the contractor with the KCC [(606) 526-7500] prior to providing any information.
2. Contact your Klasko law attorney to advise us of the telephonic contact by the KCC contractor.
3. Do not speak with government agents or contractors without a witness present. Both the witness and the interviewee should prepare notes of what questions were asked and label them “Privileged and Confidential/Prepared at the Direction of Counsel,” and submit them to your Klasko law attorney for review and retention.
4. Retain complete copies of your I-129 petitions and supporting documents in a confidential file maintained by the designated company official for easy access during a contractor call.
5. Never guess at the answer to a question about the petition. If the employer is unsure about some requested information, the employer should indicate that he/she will follow up with the KCC contractor to provide accurate information after such information is obtained.
Employers are reminded that the investigations conducted by the KCC are separate and apart from the investigations conducted by the Fraud Detection and National Security Unit (FDNS) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS will continue to conduct its own fraud investigations using the FDNS unit. FDNS conducts site visits of petitioning employers in an effort to combat fraudulent petitions. Employers are reminded to contact their Klasko law attorney if they receive a site visit from a Department of Homeland Security contractor.
Friday, November 20th, 2009
On November 19, 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for investigating immigration violations and enforcing immigration laws at the worksite, announced that it was issuing 1,000 new Notices of Inspections (NOIs) to employers across the country. In particular, ICE announced that it would target employers located at critical infrastructure sites which include airports, military bases, defense facilities and seaports. This announcement comes on the heels of a summer which saw the issuance of NOIs to 652 employers across the country. Secretary of ICE, John Morton stated, “ICE is focused on finding and penalizing employers who believe they can unfairly get ahead by cultivating illegal workplaces. We are increasing criminal and civil enforcement of immigration-related employment laws and imposing smart, tough employer sanctions to even the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”
Morton went on to explain that the businesses that were to receive the NOIs were selected for inspection as a result of investigative leads and intelligence, as well as their connection to public safety and national security. DHS did not release the names and locations of the businesses to be audited due to the ongoing, law enforcement nature of the investigations.
As Klasko Law reported earlier this year, ICE’s main priority in worksite enforcement actions is to target employers who knowingly hire unauthorized aliens in violation of federal law. An internal ICE memo released to the public through a freedom of information act earlier this year indicated that the agency views worksite enforcement investigations against employers as the best means of targeting and curbing the root causes of illegal immigration. As such, ICE has made the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers their top priority. This includes the imposition of criminal charges against owners, corporate managers, supervisors and others in the management structure.
However, as ICE investigations to date have shown, employers who make inadvertent errors on their I-9 forms or in the verification process are held liable by the agency for civil penalties in the event of an audit. The current focus on investigations and prosecutions is a significant departure from the days of legacy INS when employers could expect a slap on the wrist in the form on minimal fines as just another cost of doing business. In this era of increased enforcement, employers must proactively preempt immigration related liabilities. Employers should conduct internal I-9 audits to identify issues and correct violations. Part and parcel of these reviews should be an evaluation of the employers’ current record keeping practices, to determine if new training programs are needed for HR personnel. Immigration counsel can be invaluable during these times in developing best practices including establishing protocols for the verification of the identity and work eligibility of new hires, advising employers on safeguards against discrimination in the I-9 process and advising on the use of E-Verify.
In addition, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and ICE announced that they were launching a new I E-Verify campaign to recognize the 170,000 employers nationwide that have registered for E-Verify. E-Verify is an internet-based Employment Eligibility Verification System run by USCIS that allows employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of certain employees. To use E-Verify, an employer enters employee information from the Form I-9 into the web-based system. E-Verify then runs that information against records in the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases to confirm whether the employee is authorized to work in the United States.
For more information on worksite compliance, ICE enforcement actions, the E-Verify program and how these developments impact your business please visit our website www.worksite-compliance.com or consult with a Klasko Law attorney.
Friday, September 18th, 2009
John Morton, the newly appointed Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for investigating immigration violations and enforcing immigration laws at the worksite said this week that ICE will continue to crackdown on employers who hire unauthorized workers. He warned employers that “You are going to see audits regularly and on a larger scale.” Secretary Morton reiterated that the agency is set to increase the number of companies it will audit and will civil impose fines on violators. ICE will also pursue criminal charges against bad-faith actors.
Secretary Morton’s comments reiterate the announcement made on July 1 by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that the agency would actively audit employers to verify whether their employees were eligible to work. He further confirmed that there are 654 companies currently under investigation ICE and that many more employers will receive Notices of Inspection soon.
Most recently, ICE’s audit of American Apparel, Inc. a clothing manufacturer and retailer made national headlines after the company announced that it would be laying off 1,500 employees following receipt of a Notice of Inspection. The layoffs are estimated to impact 25% of the company’s workforce. American Apparel, Inc. is also likely to face thousands of dollars in penalties for hiring workers who weren’t eligible to be employed. The government has publicly stated that fines against the company may exceed $800 per unauthorized employee. Earlier this year, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation was also fined by ICE for violations of immigration laws following an audit of the company’s I-9s that revealed that the company employed dozens of illegal aliens at one of their doughnut factories in Cincinnati.
With the Obama Administration’s support of increased I-9 enforcement actions, it is clear that employers must pre-empt immigration related liabilities due to non-compliance with federal immigration regulations by being proactive. Internal I-9 audits are invaluable tools for identifying issues and correcting violations. Bringing in experienced immigration counsel to train human resources personnel on all aspects of immigration compliance and establish proper record-keeping procedures can significantly limit exposure and liability.
Employers who receive notices of inspection are advised to contact their immigration counsel as quickly as possible. Generally, these notices only provide three days for the employer to submit their I-9s to ICE for review. This short period of time is critical. Counsel must be contacted as quickly as possible. Employers must gather all of the company’s I-9s and supporting documentation to make sure that it is available to ICE. It is advisable to have counsel review the company’s payroll to identify any discrepancies between the number of employees and the company’s I-9s. All efforts should be made to correct any I-9s with obvious errors. Company representatives responding to the Notice of Investigation should always retain copies of any documentation submitted to ICE. Employers who can demonstrate good-faith efforts to comply with immigration laws are more likely to be assessed lower level civil fines if violations are uncovered.
For more information on government investigations and how I-9 compliance requirements affect your business please visit our website http://www.worksite-compliance.com.
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for investigating immigration violations and enforcing immigration laws at the worksite, announced a nationwide initiative to audit employers’ Form I-9 employment eligibility verification records on July 1, 2009. The announcement was followed by the issuance of Notices of Inspection to 652 employers across the country. This was a strong statement by ICE of their intentions to pursue worksite enforcement actions. In comparison, only 503 Notices of Inspection were issued in all of fiscal year 2008.
The ICE announcement is in line with the recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcement that the Obama Administration is interested in focusing its resources on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. In conjunction with the notice the DHS Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton stated “ICE is committed to establishing a meaningful I-9 inspection program to promote compliance with the law. This nationwide effort is a first step in ICE’s long-term strategy to address and deter illegal employment.”
Under the new worksite enforcement policy, ICE began notifying businesses that it planned to inspect their hiring records to see whether employees have proper employee documentation.
ICE has indicated that many of the companies were located in New York and California. On Wednesday, American Apparel Inc., a Los Angeles clothing retailer, confirmed that ICE gave notice that 1,600 of its 5,600 factory employees might be working illegally. It couldn’t verify the status of 200 others. In Arizona alone, federal immigration-enforcement agents notified 32 Arizona companies on Wednesday that their employment records are being audited.
In this era of worksite enforcement, it is critical for employers to recognize and pre-empt immigration related liabilities due to non-compliance with federal immigration regulations. Experienced immigration counsel is invaluable to companies during this time, as they can assist with internal I-9 internal audits and providing Human Resources’ personnel with ongoing training and tools for compliance. Such actions can limit exposure and liability and establish record-keeping procedures that will establish compliance in case of an audit by ICE.