This week, the Associated Press (AP) reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has opened 2,282 audits between October 1 and May 4, 2018, representing an approximate 60% increase in audits from the entire 2017 fiscal year. The AP article interviewed Derek Benner, head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, who stated that the agency plans to undertake additional audits for the remainder of the fiscal year that would bring the total to “well over” 5,000.
In a stunning development, Benner told the AP that ICE has developed a plan to “open as many as 15,000 audits a year, subject to funding and support for the plan from other areas of the administration.” This includes the creation of an Employer Compliance Inspection Center, which would handle audits in a centralized location, utilizing electronic scanning. This proposal would seek to instill a “reasonable expectation” among employers for an audit.
In our own practice, we have seen a significant uptick in ICE audits among businesses, especially those located in the Philadelphia area. We’ve previously covered ICE’s plans to potentially quintuple enforcement actions in for this fiscal year.
All businesses should be proactive in ensuring that they have their Form I-9 compliance files as accurate as possible. Civil liability may even attach to businesses that do not hire foreign workers or have a 100% work-authorized employee pool. Indeed, Form I-9 violations and ICE auditing may result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and significant negative press attention. Given ICE’s ambitious plans, ensuring total compliance with all employee verification laws is an absolute must.
Contact us today for advice on ensuring compliance with your company’s employee verification policies and procedures.