Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's Official: USG Crackdown on Employers, I-9 Compliance

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Obama's new chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced an intensified crackdown on U.S. employers who hire unauthorized workers.  John Morton, new head of ICE (which is part of the Department of Homeland Security) told the Journal that the agency  is "set to increase the number of companies it will audit and systematically impose fines on violators."  He added that these violations -- as most of my regular readers well know -- can also lead to criminal charges.

Folks, I am feeling less and less like Chicken LIttle and more and more like Nostradamus.  I am not going to bore you by yet AGAIN quoting myself from blogs I've written since President Obama was elected, but, frankly, the accuracy of my predictions and timing is downright creepy at this point.

The last volley on this subject came at the beginning of July when  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced what many of us have been expecting: the launch of audits of employers to verify whether their employees were eligible to
work. Mr. Morton now added, according to the WSJ,  that 654 companies are currently being audited
and that many more employers will be notified soon that they also will
be under scrutiny by the government
.  He was quoted as follows:

"You
are going to see audits regularly and on a larger scale...You will see the resuscitation
of...civil fines."

The WSJ succinctly summarized the bottom line for lay readers:

"As part of the audit, immigration agents review the I-9 forms and
other records of a company. If agents conclude that a business
knowingly hired illegal workers, criminal investigations follow...Fines for companies found to employ workers in the country illegally
could exceed $800 per employee.[emphasis added].

The WSJ further came to the same conclusion I did late last year:

"The Obama administration has made employers the cornerstone of its
immigration policy. "If we are going to have serious change, we must
make sure the employer community is complying with the law," said Mr.
Morton, referring to employers as the magnet that attracts thousands of
illegal workers to the U.S. each year."

Please do your company a favor and read last month's article foreshadowing this grim new policy announcement so you can get internal corporate leadership to understand that an internal audit is not just an "insurance policy" but, rather, a preemptive tactical strategy through which your company can seize market share when your competition crashes and burns via federal enforcement.

Immigration Crackdown Shifts Focus to Employers

Folks, it is time to stop dilly-dallying and conduct those internal audits!  Please contact me for further information on our turnkey I-9 Internal Audit services featuring the best compliance software around, I-9 Advantage.

Jose




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