ICE aggressively audits businesses for undocumented employees

It is not the first time, but the United States is narrowing in on employers across the nation. The worry? The employment of undocumented workers.

Recently, U.S. Immigration and Customs notified thousands of companies of an employment audit. Businesses must submit proof and appropriate documentation to prove that workers are of legal status.

At this time, ICE claims that it is requesting documents in order to ensure that all businesses are complying with important employment regulations. So far, audits have been pushed among manufacturing, agriculture, food processing and the restaurant industries.

The good news is that an audit does not mean an automatic deportation for the worker. On the other hand, it does mean that any undocumented employee will lose his her position. For the employers that hire thousands of employees, including immigrants, a detailed audit may result in the loss of many workers. Moreover, employers can face fat fines and criminal charges.

When an audit is conducted, ICE requests payroll sheets, work rosters and I-9 employee documentation. Once the agency gets appropriate documentation, it will send a notice to businesses that have employed workers with mismatching or unofficial papers, false employee names, and false Social Security numbers or ID cards.

If employers are given a notice, they must alert workers of the issue. Employees then must resign from the position or present appropriate papers. Fines are given to businesses for employment of undocumented individuals and administrative mistakes on forms.

In the last few years, ICE has investigated nearly 10,000 companies for employment issues relating to undocumented workers, according to the Wall Street Journal. This has resulted in more than $100 million fines.

The Pew Hispanic Center adds that approximately 11 million undocumented immigrant workers are in the U.S., and eight million of these individuals work in some capacity. While several immigrants working in the agricultural industry are not authorized, sources report that audits are more aggressively pursued in the restaurant industry.

However, employers should not overreach in their investigations. For example, earlier this year, Macy’s was slapped with fines and investigated by the Justice Department after it employed questionable and discriminatory practices involving immigrant employees.

If you conduct business with thousands of workers – many of which come from outside the country – you may be investigated for unlawful employment practices. To help ensure your employment documents are in line and in compliance with immigration laws, contact an immigration law firm.

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