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.