The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has issued a statement that they will begin the fifth surge in a series of investigations aimed at investigating potential employers of illegal immigrants. Approximately 1000 employers are being notified of intention to investigate.
"The inspections will touch on employers of all sizes and in every state in the nation, with an emphasis on businesses related to critical infrastructures and key resources," the ICE news release stated.
"Ultimately, our focus on business related to critical infrastructure and key resources aligns with our priority as an agency to first and foremost minimize threats to national security and public safety," Ice spokesperson Gillian Christensen suggested.
"ICE's worksite enforcement strategy focuses on employers, penalizing those who knowingly violate the law and deterring others from breaking the law," Christensen added. Stating that ICE "may arrest workers we encounter," she restated that the goal was to make examples of the employers that they could pinpoint and not to arrest and deport illegals.
According to ICE, the program is not being developed in a systematic format. Decisions on which random companies will be investigated will be done on "tips," possibly from anonymous sources and similar to the manner in which drug cases are built.
Claiming the scope would be broad, the federal agency stated that the focus would be on corporations in the banking and finance industry, commercial nuclear reactors, dams, drinking water and water treatment systems, government facilities, information technology, telecommunications and transportation systems, as examples.
No definitive statement was given with respect to "I-9 audit surges" against employers who depend on transient and seasonal workers to prepare their product for market. These industries include the agriculture and construction industry.
While reaffirming that the audits are intended to foster a culture of compliance among potential employers of illegal immigrants, the agency noted that this is the fifth such audit program. In the fiscal year 2010 ICE arrested 196 employers from 2,338 audits. The 2,196 audits of the preceding 2009 fiscal year resulted in 114 employer arrests.
Penalties from convictions for hiring illegal immigrants include fines and incarceration, but can also result in expulsion from the immigrant worker program and a ban from receiving future government contracts. ICE actually implemented this prohibition on 97 businesses and 49 individuals in the 2010 operating year.
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