ICE Worksite Enforcement On The Rise – Check Your Forms I-9!

With the rise of ICE audits, employers should ensure compliance with Form I-9 requirements.

Information released recently by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows a significant increase in worksite enforcement efforts by that agency in 2018.

According to ICE, the increased criminal investigations, business audits and arrests by Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) special agents are the result of the agency’s commitment “to step up its worksite enforcement efforts across the country.”

The figures released by ICE reflect increases from 300 to 750 percent over the previous fiscal year.

For example:

  • The number of worksite investigations opened by HIS increased from 1,691 in fiscal year 2017 to 6,848 in fiscal year 2018;
  • Form I-9 audits increased from 1,360 in 2017 to 5,981 in 2018; and
  • HIS made 779 criminal arrests and 1,525 administrative worksite-related arrests in 2018, compared to 139 and 172, respectively, in 2017.

What hasn’t changed much is the number of criminal indictments and convictions – the numbers stayed relatively constant between 2017 and 2018. However, ICE does expect those numbers to increase as ongoing investigations are completed.

Form I-9 Compliance is Key

Federal law requires employers to verify that an individual is authorized to be employed in the United States by completing the Form I-9. New employees must complete Section 1 of the Form I-9 by the first day of work, and the employer must complete Section 3 by the third day of work. If the employee cannot provide proof of eligibility to work by the third day of work, they cannot continue to work for you.

Responding to a Form I-9 Inspection

With Form I-9 audits on the rise, employers need to be prepared. Employers who receive a Notice of Inspection from ICE must act quickly, as you typically only have three days to comply.

In addition to complying with the ICE inspection, employers in California must also notify their employees of the inspection. AB 450, which was effective January 1, 2018, requires employers who receive a notice of an I-9 inspection to notify all employees of the pending inspection: employers must post a notice in the workplace within 72 hours of receiving the notice of inspection. Employers who fail to comply with the notice requirement face penalties.

Erika Pickles, Employment Law Counsel/HR Adviser

CalChamber members can visit the HR Library’s I-9 Form: Verifying Eligibility page for more information on Form I-9 compliance. Not a member? Learn more about how CalChamber can help you.

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