Around the first of October, 2017, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency “ICE” issued a directive to increase worksite enforcement investigations. ICE is the federal agency which enforces the IRCA, which requires all employers to verify the identity and work authorization of all employees, and to document that information with the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.

Between the issuance of the directive and May 1, ICE doubled the number of workplace investigations, opening some 3,510. It opened only 1,716 in all of the prior fiscal year. It also initiated 2,282 I-9 audits. ICE officials have stated that “Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records. All industries, regardless of size, and location are expected to comply with the law.”

Penalties for violations are calculated by dividing the number of violations by the number of employees to reach a violation percentage. The penalties range from $220 to $2,190 per violation depending on whether it is a first, second, or third offense.

So, prudent employers should take steps to make sure that they have properly completed I-9s for all employees. With this increased scrutiny, one never knows when ICE may want to perform an audit.

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