I9 Audits on the Rise

Though immigration raids are on the decline, I9 audits have risen in the first two years of the Obama administration. "In the past two years, the Obama administration has significantly changed the direction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) worksite efforts," Kevin Lashus, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig told SHRM Online. "The Bush administration was interested in taking the highest numbers of unauthorized workers into custody during any time frame. The Obama administration, on the other hand, is interested in targeting the employers that hired them.

ICE during the Bush era locked down buildings and deported workers after interrogations. Obama has taken a rather different target: the employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. He has increased the administrative fines and number of paper audits. Employers are asked to dismiss the unauthorized employees and even criminal prosecutions have risen.

"Raids the way they used to be are not used by ICE anymore," Mira Mdivani said, an attorney with The Mdivani Law Firm. "In the past, ICE raided workplaces, arrested workers en masse and placed them in deportation proceedings."

In April of 2009 - ICE placed priority on criminal prosecution of employers. ICE still arrests some undocumented workers, the days of a numbers-driven raid are essentially over.

"These days, ICE investigates the employer without the employer's knowledge for months before serving notice of an I9 inspection on the unsuspecting employer," Mdivani said.

Fines for simple Form I9 violations can range from $110 to $1,100 per violation, the higher rate going to those employers with a larger number of errors. Companys with large numbers in their workforce who fail to properly manage their Form I9 documentation can face hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars in fines.

Liberty Screening offers electronic I9 archival with full support to help keep our clients in compliance and out of trouble. Our simple process makes it easy to archive, record, and monitor the I9 process and in the case that you are audited - the electronic record of I9 archival protects our clients against costly fines.

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