Trump Administration to Increase Worksite Enforcement of Immigration Laws

October 18, 2017 | Henry M. Mascia | Corporate

Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan confirmed what most immigration experts predicted – the Trump administration will intensify worksite enforcement of immigration laws.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Acting Director Homan stated that the agency would increase the amount of time spent on “worksite enforcement” by “four or five times” this year. ICE also plans to approach enforcement “a little different” from the previous administration, which prioritized criminal prosecution of employers that use unauthorized workers as a business model, mistreat workers, engage in human smuggling or trafficking, engage in identity and benefit fraud, launder money and participate in other criminal conduct.

ICE also plans to deport workers without immigration status who are discovered during the course of a worksite enforcement. Acting Director Homan explained that the policy behind this enforcement strategy was to “remove the magnets,” such as employment, that attract foreign nationals to the United States.

The takeaway for employers is simple: The risk that ICE will audit a company’s employment authorization records, such as the Form I-9, has increased this year.

Here’s what an employer can do to prepare:

1.    Review internal procedures to re-verify employment authorization. Remember that you cannot re-verify the employment authorization of all employees. Re-verifying the employment authorization of all employees could subject employers to liability in a document abuse lawsuit. Speak to your attorney or human resources professional before re-verifying.

2.    Conduct an internal audit. Select employee files at random to determine if human resources professionals have properly verified employment authorization and documented the need for re-verification.

3.    Large employers should consider purchasing software to track employees who require re-verification of work authorization.

These proactive measures will help employers identify and correct errors before they are discovered during an ICE audit. Because law permits ICE to impose fines of over $2,000 for each violation discovered during an audit, employers should consider instituting these measures in light of the adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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