The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) protect the United States from illegal immigration and cross-border crime that could threaten public safety or national security. One way that ICE does this is to look for companies they believe may be employing individuals not legally in the United States.
Whether an employer hires illegal immigrants, they must take ICE inquiries seriously. In addition, they should have adequate legal representation. If the employer fails to prove compliance with federal immigration laws and regulations, they may face criminal or civil prosecutions. However, employers can take several steps to avoid investigations and to prepare when chosen for investigation.
Employers should ensure that they have an I-9 compliance program. In addition, they should periodically review it to ensure it remains up-to-date and works as intended. Companies with effective I-9 compliance programs are less likely to violate federal immigration laws. Additionally, using an I-9 compliance program helps prove the company’s attempt to comply when investigated by ICE.
Claiming ignorance of an employee’s immigration status is not a defense. As such, employers cannot overlook an employee’s immigration status. According to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), employers must verify all new employees’ identity and employment eligibility. Lacking sufficient procedures for verifying employment eligibility will alert ICE to potential problems, often leading to further investigation.
Employers must complete all hires’ employment eligibility verification forms (Form I-9). Filling out Form I-9 ensures compliance with the IRCA. The IRCA requires complete compliance. Therefore, employers cannot substitute the verification procedures.
Employers must examine employees’ identity and employment eligibility documents in addition to having them complete Form I-9. Furthermore, employers must ensure the presented papers appear genuine, relate to the employee, and prove consistent with the information on their Form I-9. These steps allow employers to find altered or forged documents, should any appear. If investigated by ICE and they discover the company failed to take these steps, the agency may determine failure to comply. ICE may choose to prosecute if the company is not in compliance.
It is crucial to verify the employment eligibility of all employees and complete Form I-9s correctly. The best way to ensure employees have completed their Form I-9s correctly is by using an electronic I-9 management system. This system guides hiring personnel through the process, safely and securely stores the forms with accompanying documentation, and makes it easy to retrieve anything in case of ICE investigations.
Ensure compliance today by switching to an electronic I-9 management tool with I-9 Compliance.