The Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning to employers about illegal immigration: There will be a new emphasis on catching and prosecuting employers who don’t follow the rules.
On April 30, DHS announced a major shift in the worksite enforcement program conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): “Effective immediately, ICE will focus its resources in the worksite enforcement program on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.”
Translation: The agency is shifting its approach from catching unauthorized workers to catching the people who hire unauthorized workers.
The cold facts:
- ICE officers will obtain indictments, criminal arrest or search warrants, or a commitment from a U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute the targeted employer before arresting employees for civil immigration violations at a worksite.
- ICE will look for evidence of the mistreatment of workers, along with evidence of trafficking, smuggling, harboring, visa fraud, identification document fraud, money laundering, and other such criminal conduct.
Enforcement of immigration law was already a high priority for the federal government in recent years. Last year, 51% of all federal prosecutions were immigration cases. There were 6,000 arrests relating to worksite enforcement, but only 135 were of employers.
All that’s about to change, and ICE has noted that prosecution can extend to owners, managers and supervisors.
What can an honest HR manager and employer do? Just make sure your documentation, such as I-9s, is complete and up to date. And double-check that your hiring practices are in compliance with federal laws.