Feds announce new I-9 audits and fines

The first round of employer audits for I-9 infractions apparently went so well that Immigration and Customers Enforcement has decided to extend the audit program and reveal the fines for violations.
ICE’s original plan called for 650 employer audits. The agency has completed about half of those and so far has categorized 16% of I-9s as “suspect and fined 61 employers a total of $2.3 million; 267 more employers are still scheduled for audit under the original program. Now, the agency is gearing up to audit 1,000 more employers, according to an agency announcement.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, ICE disclosed its factors for assessing fines when it finds I-9 violations. In the past, ICE had calculated fines within the legal limits (up to $1,000 for the first offense and $2,500 for a knowing violation) based on five factors: business size, good faith, seriousness, employment of unauthorized aliens, and history of compliance.
The new ICE factors:

  • Knowing hire or continuing to employ vs. paperwork violations
  • First, second, or third offense
  • Percentage of total reviewed I-9s that have violations
  • Other factors such as  business size, good faith, seriousness, unauthorized aliens, and history

Some ICE examples of how employer fines would be set using the factors:

  • Employer A with 25% of I-9s containing paperwork violations and no previously fined violations would be fined $440 per violation, which would be adjusted up 5% for being a large employer and down 10% for showing good faith with a good history, for a net of $418 per violation.
  • Small Employer B with 5% of I-9s reflecting knowing employment of unauthorized workers (including “constructive knowledge”) might only be fined about $300 per violation.