The government has been ramping up enforcement of employment immigration laws, with a particular focus on insuring that companies are staying in compliance. The number of enforcement activities has increased dramatically in the past year. Now, more than ever, it’s important to insure that your company is ready in case of a government I-9 audit. And for the first time, it’s not enough to be in compliance. Each company must prove compliance, and if using an electronic system, use one that works in accordance with immigration laws.
The San Diego Union Tribune reports, enforcement in San Diego County mirrors a national trend toward more scrutiny of employers’ I-9 forms, the universal tool for verifying permission to work in the United States.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, initiated 66 audits with local employers in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, reviewing 5,588 individual I-9s in the process. That was up from 44 audits in fiscal 2009 and just one audit in 2008. A company can be fined up to $1,100 for each illegal employee, and knowingly violating verification laws can lead to criminal charges and forfeited assets.
So the heat is now on employers to clean the house, it is also a great burden on employees to find work. As the illegal population continues to grow, they will also find creative ways to deal with the system. All we can suggest employers is to conduct routine internal I-9 audits and have an immigration policy in place, this is the best practice to follow.