WASHINGTON-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton today announced on November 19, 2009 the issuance of Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 1,000 employers across the country associated with critical infrastructure-alerting business owners that ICE will audit their hiring records to determine compliance with employment eligibility verification laws.
If you are an employer, you may wonder how seriously you should take this news. My response is that you should take it very seriously. The current administration is shifting the focus away from the employee and towards the employer. My prediction is that we will see many more NOIs in the future. The White House has stated this emphasis as a main goal for immigration reform in the future. This is from the Administration’s web site:
Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally: President Obama will remove incentives to enter the country illegally by preventing employers from hiring undocumented workers and enforcing the law.
Once a business receives a NOI, ICE will allow 3 business days to present the Employment Verification Form I-9. After reviewing the I-9s, ICE will give the employer 10 business days to make corrections. ICE, Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, will require employers who have knowingly hired or continued to employ unauthorized workers to do the following: cease the unlawful activity, pay a fine, or, face criminal prosecution.
ICE is aiming these audits at the following businesses: The 1,000 businesses served with audit notices this week were selected for inspection as a result of investigative leads and intelligence and because of the business’ connection to public safety and national security-for example, privately owned critical infrastructure and key resources.
As I have previously discussed, ICE will issue many more NOIs. The current 1000 issued NOIs may have such a connection to public safety and national security, but the focus of the next series of I-9s could be much broader. ICE I-9 enforcement could represent a significant obstacle for employers in the coming months.