If you think that only illegal aliens need to be concerned about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), then as an employer, you have not been paying attention in 2018, when ICE has clearly put businesses in the crosshairs with compliance audits and enforcement raids.
Take, for example, a raid conducted by ICE in small town Tennessee in April 2018. The Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant reportedly employed at least 104 undocumented immigrants at the time of the surprise raid. The company hired most of these without requiring the employees to complete the required I-9 forms and without making them provide documents showing their identities and authorization to work legally in the United States. To make matters more felonious, these workers were paid in cash each week and not reported on the company’s payroll tax reports.
Last month, the owner of that Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant agreed to a plea bargain in federal court on charges of tax evasion, wire fraud and employing undocumented immigrants. The owner has not been sentenced to prison yet, but he has already agreed to pay at least $1,296,183 to the IRS in restitution.
Similar worksite raids have escalated dramatically under the Trump administration and are happening all over the country. On August 28, a trailer manufacturer located near Paris, Texas, faced one of the largest immigration raids in recent history, when 159 of its approximately 500 employees were arrested by ICE. Because that Texas company, Load Trail, was fined $445,000 four years ago for hiring dozens of undocumented workers, one could reasonably expect the employer to also face jail time and restitution requirements for a pattern and practice of breaking the immigration laws.
How do companies get selected for raids? Continue reading Employers Targeted in ICE Raids and Audits
If you are hiring any employees, this is just a quick reminder that you need to start using the new I-9 form to confirm your new worker’s eligibility to be employed in the United States.
The new I-9 form was released on November 14, 2016 (look for that date on the form to verify that you are using the most recent one). You already can be using the new form, but it is mandatory that you are using that new form by January 22, 2017. My suggestion for making it easy on yourself is to begin using the new form today, or at least no later than January 1, 2017, so that you start the new year off right.
You do not have to update any of your completed I-9s on current employees with the new form. It is only mandatory that you start using the new I-9 with employees who are hired beginning in January 2017.
As you know, employers must assure an I-9 is completed on each new employee hired (citizen or otherwise) to document identity and authorization to legally work in the United States. The new employee must bring the proper forms of identification and work authorization so that you can complete the I-9 by the third business day of employment, or you can no longer employ that worker.
Mistakes happen on an incredibly frequent basis while filling out I-9 forms and employers get penalized substantially if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) audits an employer’s forms. Here is a guide to the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Another way to avoid mistakes on the I-9 form is Continue reading New Employees Should Complete New I-9 Form
In all of the talk about immigration in this election year, it is important for businesses to understand that the responsibility for preventing illegal immigration generally rests on employers, who must verify that all new hires are eligible to work in this country.
Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), employers are mandated to verify an employee’s identity and eligibility to work in the United States by completing an Employment Eligibility Verification, more commonly known as a Form I-9.
The current version of the I-9 (available here) says on the form that it expired on March 31, 2016, but it is still in effect three months later because a newer version has not been released.
Every employer, regardless of the size of the business, must present the latest version of the Form I-9 to each prospective employee and confirm that employee completes and signs the employee section of the form. The employer is required to inspect the employee’s supporting documents and have an authorized individual from the Company sign the employer section of the I-9. All of these items must be completed within three (3) business days of the employee’s hire date.
An employer’s failure to properly complete the Form I-9 can bring about costly fines by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As recently as April 2016, a judge ruled that Golden Employment Company in Minnesota was liable for failure to timely present I-9 forms for at least 125 employees as well as not preparing forms in any capacity for almost 236 workers. The employer also inaccurately completed some of the I-9s. The civil penalties totaled $209,600.
Most ICE inspections result from complaints from current employees, former employees, labor unions and even competitors. However, random inspections are also undertaken by ICE. It’s important to make sure all of your work eligibility records are up-to-date and properly completed.
What can you do to avoid penalties and ensure I-9 compliance? Continue reading Employers Responsible for Preventing Illegal Immigration