ICE Targets Large Employers: How to Be Prepared

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On January 20, 2011, John Morton, Chief of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced the creation of an Employment Compliance Inspection Center (ECIC), and the news should put all large employers on notice. The ECIC will be staffed to examine exclusively the hundreds or even thousands of I-9s of larger companies targeted for an ICE audit.

ICE has reported that last fiscal year it conducted 2,740 audits and recorded $7 million in fines, considerably more than the $1.0 million levied in 2009 and the $700,000 levied in 2008. For the most part, smaller employers were targeted. The new ECIC has been created to support regional immigration offices that may have avoided auditing large employers because of the logistics of conducting an audit. “We wouldn’t be limited by the size of a company,” Morton said. Termed silent raids, an ICE audit with the enhanced ability to handle a large volume of I-9s implements a promise in 2009 by the Obama administration to move away from the Bush administration’s practice of conducting surprise raids that resulted in massive worker arrests and eventual deportations. The ICE focus is now on finding the employers who employ undocumented workers instead of targeting the undocumented workers themselves.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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