U.S. Alert – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Plans to Increase Worksite Enforcement

Background

Since President Trump’s Executive Order in “Buy American, Hire American” issued in January, 2017, companies and immigration practitioners have seen increased scrutiny over immigration compliance.[1] In an October 2017 speech at the Heritage Foundation, ICE acting director Thomas Homan confirmed his plans to follow the President’s orders increase enforcement to prevent fraud and abuse.

ICE Plans to Increase Enforcement

ICE has already increased inspections and worksite operations. ICE also indicated the agency will:

  • Significantly boost the number of inspections in the upcoming fiscal year;
  • Multiply the time spent on enforcement by four or five times;
  • Target undocumented employees for detention and removal; and
  • Prosecute employers for knowingly hiring or retaining workers who lack valid U.S. employment authorization.

ICE can prosecute employers for both “actual” and “constructive” knowledge that an employee does not have employment authorization.[2] “Constructive knowledge” is defined as “knowledge which may fairly be inferred through notice of certain facts and circumstances which would lead a person, through the exercise of reasonable care, to know about a certain condition.”

Higher Fines and Compliance for Companies

In addition to prosecuting employers, the government is raising monetary fines. For example, fines for I-9 paperwork violations were almost doubled last year.[3] It is crucial that employers are prepared for greater scrutiny of employment sites and immigration forms. Employers should create compliance programs, conduct immigration compliance training, and perform internal audits to ascertain areas that may be scrutinized under an ICE audit.

[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/18/presidential-executive-order-buy-american-and-hire-american

[2] 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(a)

[3] https://www.ice.gov/factsheets/i9-inspection