The recent number of raids, arrests, and criminal indictments against employers for worksite violations across the State by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) branch of the Department of Homeland Security are clear indications that employers are on the frontline of the government’s efforts to stop illegal immigration.
Today Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents executed a criminal search warrant at a popular Pacific Beach bakery and restaurant, The French Gourmet, and have taken workers suspected of being illegally in the country into custody. I actually like the place and often get baked goods for the weekend. Recent raids against employers believed to have unauthorized workers have been based on ongoing criminal investigations by ICE. ICE has arrived at worksites with both criminal and civil warrants. It has searched businesses, frozen bank accounts, and arrested not only employees but also employers. I can only wonder why this little place was targeted and investigated. Read the Story here
So what can I advice the Owners of the French Gourmet?
Under IRCA, employers must complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility and Verification, for all employees hired after November 6, 1986. ICE is authorized to conduct investigations to determine whether employers have knowingly employed unauthorized workers and failed to properly complete, present, or retain the Form I-9 for newly hired employees. An ICE investigation nearly always involve the examination of the employer’s I-9 files, even though the I-9s may not be the target of its investigation. In fact, ICE has recently hired forensic auditors to focus on I-9 enforcement.
To ensure compliance with the I-9 requirements under IRCA, a company should establish an I-9 policy that includes:
* The proper and timely completion and retention of Form I-9 for all employees hired after November 6, 1986;
* Zero-tolerance for the employment of individuals who do not provide the proper identity and employment eligibility documents for Form I-9;
* A tickler system for I-9s that require reverification;
* I-9 training for all company representatives who are part of the recruitment, orientation, and hiring processes for the company; and
* Regularly scheduled in-house I-9 audits.
Conducting self-audits puts a company in better position if it becomes the subject of an ICE investigation. While employers cannot verify whether documents used for employment authorization are authentic, self-audits establish good-faith compliance.
Best Tip for employers:
Personnel should be instructed not to provide any documentation or information to ICE unless there is a warrant issued, and to do so under the supervision of legal counsel. Note that ICE is required to give three-days notice before an I-9 audit, unless it presents a search warrant or subpoena.