Human Resources News & Insights

Hiring illegals: Stakes might be higher than you think

The possibility of a prison term should put the issue of hiring illegals into perspective for HR managers.

Last month, Jose Humberto Gonzalez was sentenced to six months of home confinement after pleading guilty to hiring hundreds of illegal aliens when he served as HR manager for an electrical transformer plant in Laurel, MS.

He was facing up to five years in prison, but a federal judge decided the home detention would be more appropriate, according to a story on The Word on Employment Law blog. Gonzalez also paid a $4,000 fine.

Gonzalez was accused of continuing to hire workers even after learning their employment eligibility documentation was bogus. He claimed he was following management orders.

Biggest in history?

According to news accounts, more than 600 illegal immigrants were arrested in a federal raid on Howard Industries in 2008.

The company was charged with conspiracy to violate immigration laws and agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine.

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  • HR Kansas

    “Gonzalez was accused of continuing to hire workers even after learning their employment eligibility documentation was bogus.”

    How exactly do you know an employee’s eligibility documentation is bogus? Unless you are some kind of document expert you don’t. Even if you have a suspicion that their documentation is “bogus” you can’t act on it without violating their civil rights. There are many lawsuits where the employer is successfully sued for taking additional steps to verify an employee’s legal status – even when their suspicion was justified.

  • B

    Totally agree with HR Kansas except when, after hiring, they practically admit they are illegal. At that point I am stuck. I am not USCIS or I’m not mandated to use E-verify. BUT there is new legislation in GA that hopefully I can use. I am sooooo tired of my hands being tied.

  • Joanna G.

    With various I-9 Forms confusions, I have a questions then is employer obligated to update I-9 Form while hiring an employee whose work permit or Permanent Residency (Green Card) expires? While filling out the form employer clearly sees that exp date is in a year, is employer required by law to have it updated and inquire from employee to provide current document authorizing to work or not? that is once hired, you are good for ever and employer is not responsible any more?
    Thank you for directing me or answering this question.

  • HR WA

    Using E-Verify is a good start. In 2010, I was able to identify more than 40 suspected undocumented aliens. Each had paperwork that looked valid, but were unable to pass Social Security verification.

  • GT

    For HR Kansas and B. there are several ways in which an employer can become aware that documentation is bogus. Either the employee tells you (not likely), the use of e-verify and even the IRS. before e-verify came along some employees were caught when the company submitted payroll information to the IRS. IRS verified information with SSA and responded back that a discrepancy was found. When the employee was approached about it so that they could fix it, they admited the bogus paperwork.

    For Joanna G. you only have to reverify the I9 when the work permit expires to make sure that work authorization exist. By definition a permanent resident’s status is permanent regardless of whether the document has expired or not. Reverification is not needed. Another time that the I9 may need to be reverified is with a name change to document the change and the documents that support the change

  • MMAN

    Joanna,
    If you use E-Verify, when you put in documents that have an expiration date- especially those under list A on the I-9 that you mention, the system will alert you when the expiry date approaches. You muse then require the worker to submit updated information which is perfectly legal.

  • Fedupwithitall

    Gonzalez ….”claimed he was following management orders.” Apparently Mr. Gonzalez was not aware of the fact it’s probably not a good idea to follow the directives of his management if it means he is to do something illegal.

  • HR Kansas

    E Verify has been found and proven to be a joke.

    http://fcw.com/articles/2010/03/03/everify-error-rate-illegal-workers.aspx

    People who cannot work legally in the United States are able to defraud or slip through the federal E-Verify system about half the time, according to a new report released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    “Due primarily to identity fraud, the inaccuracy rate for unauthorized workers is approximately 54 percent,” states the report from the Westat research firm, which examined E-Verify’s caseload from September 2007 to June 2008. “This finding is not surprising, given that since the inception of E-Verify it has been clear that many unauthorized workers obtain employment by committing identity fraud that cannot be detected by E-Verify.”

    So it missed “illegals” 54% of the time.

    But they have improved the improper flagging of “legal” employees. At one time its was nearly 20% wrong too, they have reduced it to almost 1%.

  • HR Kansas

    HR WA Says:
    Using E-Verify is a good start. In 2010, I was able to identify more than 40 suspected undocumented aliens. Each had paperwork that looked valid, but were unable to pass Social Security verification.

    —————————————————————————————————————-

    If you didn’t hire 40 illegals you probably hired 40 or 41 illegals, and turned away 1 person who was legal but the sytem flaggd as being illegal.

  • GT

    54% failure rate is better than a 100% failure rate. That is the difference between using e-verify and not using e-verify. Not only that, but if you hire an illegal worker who was cleared by e-verify, the government cannot punish you or the company as you can prove due diligence in your hiring process.
    Remember that the business of phony documentation started in the 80’s when the I9 became a federal requirement. it is not new because of e-verify and since e-verify itself is new, there is plenty of room for improvements to the manner in which the system verifies legal or illegal documents.

  • B

    Since, as of this date, E-verify is not mandated, my employer doesn’t require me to use it (BIG MISTAKE). Of those who do use it…..is it in your literature given to employee prior to hire….do they sign that its ok to run them through this system? Always thinking I have to cover my behind these days. Any input would be helpful.

  • GT

    HR Kansas

    The “new report” you quoted is from last year stating information provided for the period of 9/07 to 6/08. E-verify was rolled out by USCIS as a mandatory program for government agencies and voluntary for private companies in 2007. what you provided was a report on its efficiency in its firts year of deployment. I’m sure USCIS has made several improvements since then, you even mentioned one of them in your post.

  • HR Kansas

    I’m sure USCIS has made several improvements since then, you even mentioned one of them in your post.

    Article uses the latest released information. If you have something newer by all means post it.

  • HR WA

    With E-verify, all employees that “kick-out” are given the opportunity to either be an ex-employee, or go to the Social Security office within the given time frame to fix the mistake (if there is one). I found that 80% admitted their info was not ligit, and the others agreed to go to Social Security to get the extra days in at work, then didn’t come back. I really don’t think we had anyone kick out of the system that should not have.

  • GT

    B

    You have to post a flier (available through USCIS website) that your company conducts e-verify for all new hires. This flier must be easily seen by the general public at all locations that provide an application or added to your application packet. It would also be a good idea to add it to your “Jobs” section of your company website and online postings for those applicants that only submit resumes. Once your company decides to use E-verify, it must be used for all new hires regardless of whether you know them personally or not and you do not have to have the employee’s approval to run their I9 info through e-verify.

  • GT

    Per the USCIS website as of 2/4/11

    Of the over 15.6 million e-verifications submitted through the date above
    98.3 were authorized for work instantly or within 24 hours
    1.7 received tentative non confirmations of which
    .3 contested the findings and were later found to be authorized
    1.4 did not contest or contested and were found not authorized to work

    This is about a four percent performance improvement over the information provided in your article.

    The article previously submitted states “…Overall, about 3.3 percent of E-Verify’s caseload consisted of illegal workers that were incorrectly deemed to be authorized to work by E-Verify, the report said. Another 2.9 percent of the caseload consisted of illegal workers correctly judged to be unauthorized. Therefore, the estimated inaccuracy rate for unauthorized workers was 54 percent…”

    This means that of all of the caseloads that e-verify saw, 6.2% were illegal workers of those 6.2% illegal worker, 3.3% (54% of all illegal worker) were authorized to work. This gives e-verify an initial success rate of about 93.8% not 46%

  • HR Kansas

    This means that of all of the caseloads that e-verify saw, 6.2% were illegal workers of those 6.2% illegal worker, 3.3% (54% of all illegal worker) were authorized to work. This gives e-verify an initial success rate of about 93.8% not 46%

    ================================================================

    I thought the whole point of E-Verify was to prevent illegal workers from being employed. The current system allows over half of applying illegals to get jobs with the government’s blessing. The fact that the system allows “legal” workers to work can hardly be counted as part the “success” rate.

    That’s like a police force claiming a 98% success level because only 2% of the people are committing crimes.

  • Joanna G.

    Just from looking at the responses to this topic, all in charge should see how important the issue is and how serious. I believe that those who want to do what is right and abide by the law, will find a way. However there will be always those employers who benefit from hiring illigal, undocumented workers and they will turn blind eye. Unless penalties are greater than benefit, there will be no real effort made to properly verify and cross examine records of potential new hire, but that’s just my opinion. I believe it’s all about diligence. Of course, I hear everone is against so called “national ID card”. We want to follow European insurance model, why not their national ID system?. Maybe this would help.
    I hope I didn’t stir to much controversy.

  • HR Kansas

    Who said “we” wanted to follow the European Insurance model? Support for Congress repealing the “health care law” that passed last year is 49 – 41 percent, and 54 – 40 percent when the question is phrased “health care reform law.”

  • http://www.joanginsberg.com Joan Ginsberg

    Howard Industries is in Laurel, Mississippi (postal abbreviation MS), and not Michigan (postal abbreviation MI).

    Perhaps this very blog is unintentionally indicative of why “documentation” is not necessarily accurate or believable.

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