Immigration Debate: Remember to Check your Form I-9s

Whether adamantly in favor or passionately opposed to the new legislation in Arizona – this heated debate is a good reminder that as an employer you should be assuring that your business’ Form I-9s are properly completed and audited annually.

Federal Form I-9’s are more important than you might think. Any improper, incomplete, or missing I-9’s can get you in trouble with the feds and facing stiff penalties. Form I-9 documents assure that each employee hired is authorized to work in the US.

“Businesses need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important as the integrity of their tax records or banking files,” says ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro.

The Form I-9s are a powerful tool the federal government uses to enforce employment and immigration laws. It allows them to hold employers “accountable for their hiring practices and ensure a legal work force.”

Even small businesses are susceptible to a government audit.

“It is a big issue for the small employer who gets a knock on the door from an ICE agent looking to see your I-9s,”

Enforcement by ICE officials was stepped up last July when ICE inspected 652 businesses nationwide. The number may seem small, but it was the first inspection of its kind. The businesses were not chosen randomly, rather they audit process typically begins with investigative leads or intelligence gathered.

Tips may come in from other law enforcement agencies or from a company’s former employees – regardless, all of them are taken seriously.