Immigration enforcement is no longer dormant! The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a wake-up call on July 1, 2009, announcing that 652 US businesses will very soon be receiving Notices of Inspection of their I-9 records. According to the ICE Press Release, the 652 businesses selected for inspection were chosen based upon leads and information gleaned from other investigative sources.
Pursuant to the Notices of Inspection, ICE will be reviewing the targeted employers’ hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations. It is highly likely that the I-9 inspection undertaken pursuant to this renewed enforcement initiative will result in criminal prosecution of employers found to have knowingly violated the law.
The cost of compliance is significantly more attractive than the cost of civil fines or litigation. The recent strategies employed by the various administrative agencies of the new administration underscore the importance of maintaining the highest levels of compliance possible. Prudent employers will review their employment verification policies and procedures and conduct audits of their I-9 compliance. Although the list of targeted employers will not be published by ICE, it is likely that ICE has focused upon industries that it believes are most worthy of investigation, including construction, food service, hospitality, and agriculture, as well as employers performing work on critical infrastructure projects such as military bases, airports, harbors, power plants, etc.