Tag Archives: enforcement

DHS Secretary Napolitano Testifies on E-Verify

 

On Wednesday, October 26, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. E-Verify was one of several topics in Secretary Napolitano’s testimony.

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Infographic: The Costs of E-Verify

From:   The Center for American Progress.

This infographic explains the costs of E-Verify, the government’s Internet-based work authorization system. It highlights the system’s known costs, such as lost tax revenue and monetary burdens on small businesses, and estimates the costs of additional fiscal burdens—to individuals verified through the system, to employers utilizing the system, and to the federal government in running the system—absent from much of the dialogue. E-Verify expands the size of government while decreasing revenue, places a crushing burden on small businesses, and imposes a “jobs tax” on ordinary Americans. 

Click this for a graphic on the costs of E-Verify: 

 Technology is generally a good thing.  The government has typically imposed E-Verify on businesses doing contract work for the state or federal goverment.  Many concerns center on the reliability of E-Verfiy.  Will these costs be too difficult for private industry to bear?  That is the question. 

Immigration Clock Runs Down on Republicans

The clock is ticking down to Drop-Dead Tuesday, and a much-debated immigration bill still isn’t on the agenda at the Senate Budget Committee. If Senate Bill 2040 doesn’t clear the panel by the end of business Tuesday, the measure is all but eliminated from consideration this session. Conservatives say the political repercussions could blow back on Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ campaign for U.S. Senate. The demise of SB 2040 would leave House Bill 7089 as the only remaining hope for immigration reform.

Here is a basic summary of HB 7089:
Enforcement of Immigration Laws: Prohibits state or political subdivisions from limiting or restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws; provides that state or its political subdivisions may not be prohibited from maintaining or exchanging information regarding immigration status; authorizes law enforcement officer to determine immigration status; requires implementation consistent with federal law; prohibits using race, color, or national origin in enforcement; requires every employer to use federal E-Verify system; prohibits knowingly employing unauthorized alien; authorizes complaints to licensing agency that employer has employed unauthorized alien; provides for enforcement & penalties; provides that certain employers are not liable for hiring, refusing to hire, or terminating employee under certain conditions; prohibits public employers from contracting for services with contractors not using E-Verify system; provides additional instance for warrantless arrests; provides additional criteria for consideration when determining whether to release defendant on bail or other conditions; provides for enhanced maximum criminal penalties when offense committed by unlawfully present alien; provides findings of public necessity. (Link to article)

If Republicans want to court the Latino vote, they will have to do much better than HB 7089. This is a tougher measure and is focused exclusively on enforcement. That will simply not go well with Latino voters. The Republicans seem to have the ability to make immigration reform a reality at this point. To get voters on their side, they will have to offer something on the benefits side. It will be interesting to see what happens with the issue of immigration reform.

USCIS Publishes Final I-9 Rule

On April 15, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule entitled “Documents Acceptable for Employment Eligibility Verification.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has definitely increased its I-9 audit efforts in recent times. The rule is an important reminder of an employer’s worksite compliance responsibilities. Office or Human Resources Managers can find the list of acceptable documents on the last page of the form.

IN IMMIGRATION REFORM, ARGUING AGAINST WORKPLACE RAIDS

As Los Angeles Times staff writer Brian Bennett reported, the Obama administration has quadrupled the number of employer audits and fined businesses $6.9 million in fiscal 2010, compared with $675,000 in 2008. Deportations are also up, from 369,221 in 2008 to 392,862 in fiscal 2010. More than 195,000 criminals were deported in 2010, a 70% increase over 2008. These numbers suggest that the administration is not under-enforcing immigration laws, as Republicans claim, but has set reasonable priorities and is pursuing them. 

Some congressional Republicans would like to resume workplace raids as way to find, detain and deport illegal immigrants. I believe that the Obama Administration will continue to go after the employer rather than the illegal employee in the months to come. Workplace raids are costly and have very debatable results. Resuming these raids could also alienate Obama’s support in the Hispanic community. Increasing the number of employer audits, however, is more cost effective. The Administration can reach many more businesses through these audits.

Employers may wish to take notice of this trend. If you have not developed a proper worksite enforcement and corporate compliance program, you should consider contacting an immigration attorney. Given the increases in DHS worksite enforcement efforts, employers should seriously assess their I-9 records and corporate compliance policies.

HERBERT WANTS WIDER IMMIGRATION REFORM

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday he wants to see more than an Arizona-style enforcement-only bill come across his desk. He wants legislation that addresses all facets of state-led immigration reform. “He encourages Rep. [Stephen] Sandstrom and others to move forward to work together,” Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling said. “What he wants to see is one comprehensive bill or several bills that are complementary and cover all parts of the spectrum. He doesn’t want to see just one enforcement bill.” Sandstrom’s bill is modeled after Arizona’s law, which requires local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws. (Source: South Lake Tribune)

To me the message seems clear: many states are frustrated by the federal government’s inability to pass any form of immigration reform. The border-states, in particular, are not getting the resources they need to deal with this issue. States such as Arizona and now apparently Utah want to take the matter into their own hands. Ultimately they will not succeed, as the federal government exclusively regulates immigration. However, the efforts by the various states may stimulate Congress into taking concrete action.

It is interesting to note that even U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) may not believe that Congress will or can accomplish immigration reform. Earlier this summer, someone leaked an internal USCIS memo to Alejandro Majorkas, the Director of USCIS. The subject of the memo is “Administrative Alternatives to Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” Here is a link to that memo.

Increasingly, it looks like Congress will not have the momentum necessary to pass comprehensive immigration reform. If it cannot succeed with this, many hope that USCIS will follow the recommendations of the leaked July 2010 Mayorkas memorandum.

San Diego-Area Bakery, with Owner and Manager, Indicted on Federal Charges for Hiring Undocumented Workers

ICE announced that a San Diego-area bakery, along with its owner and a manager, have been charged in a 16-count indictment by a federal grand jury, that resulted from an agency investigation into allegations the business knowingly hired undocumented workers.

According to the indictment, the company’s managers certified on the firm’s Employment Verification Forms (I-9) that the documents they examined appeared to be genuine, and to the best of the their knowledge, the employees listed on the I-9 were eligible to work in the United States. The managers then put the illegal workers on the company’s payroll and paid them by paycheck until they received “no match” letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA) advising that the Social Security numbers being used by the employees did not match the names of the rightful owners of those Social Security numbers. After receiving the “no match” letters, The French Gourmet, Inc., then allegedly conspired to pay the undocumented employees in cash until the workers produced a new set of employment documents with different Social Security numbers. For further information, click here.

In 2009, ICE implemented a comprehensive strategy to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce. Under this strategy, ICE is focusing its resources on auditing and investigating employers suspected of knowingly employing illegal workers.

As the story above illustrates, companies can no longer afford to be careless with worksite enforcement issues. ICE will definitely enforce this new policy. As we see, ICE will not hesitate to start arresting people.

This directive also comes from the top. President Obama has his goals for immigration listed at the this site.

The relevant goal states the following: 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.

In the months to come, we will see fewer of the mass raids from past years, where all the employees at the big processing plants are rounded up and deported. This is a shift from the employee to the employer. The employer will now face scrutiny from the government.

I-9 compliance is the sword that ICE will use to enforce this policy. Companies should consider hiring outside counsel to provide the training necessary to ensure proper I-9 compliance.

IMMIGRATION UPDATE

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.

COMMENTARY

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.