I-9 audits conducted by officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been on the rise recently, affecting businesses throughout the United States.
Here’s what you need to know about these audits and what to keep in mind as the rates of arrests, detainments and deportations by ICE increase.
It’s not just your imagination: Enforcement really is increasing.
From October 2016 to October 2017, the federal government conducted 1,360 I-9 audits and 1,716 investigations regarding immigration and hiring. From October 2017 to May 2018, those numbers jumped to 2,282 audits and 3,510 work site investigations. ICE plans to conduct up to 15,000 I-9 audits each year once it has the inspection center capacity to do so.
The pace of audits and investigations hasn’t slowed down, making it essential for every U.S. business to ensure its I-9 forms are compliant, and it is keeping track of its employees, including their status to work in the United States.
E-Verify can help – but only with your employees.
The federal government’s E-Verify system allows companies to ensure I-9 compliance via a digital system. ICE’s increased enforcement may encourage many employers to start using E-Verify, but it is important to remember the system only covers immigration compliance for employees.
For independent contractors, temporary staff and other workers, you’ll still need to make sure you are complying with the law in hiring. Your staffing partner can help by taking on the job of checking work status for many contract or temp workers.
ICE has changed the way it calculates civil penalties.
The fines imposed for I-9 violations have increased this year due to a change in the way ICE calculates the amount of the fine owed. In fiscal year 2017, employers were ordered to pay $97.6 million in forfeitures, fines and restitution for I-9 violations, and an additional $7.8 million in civil fines.
The penalties for certain workers are even higher. While employers may face fines, employees who are found to be in the U.S. illegally may be arrested, detained and ultimately deported. Certain violations of hiring laws can lead to the arrest of employers as well, making it essential to communicate with an attorney if you have specific questions about I-9 enforcement.
Build the right team.
If you’re concerned about meeting laws or policies regarding the staff you hire, partner with a staffing expert. At TERRA Staffing, our recruiters can find the staff you need and ensure their paperwork is compliant. Find one our branches today to learn more about our strategic staffing services.