UPDATE:  On January 10, 2018, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced its three-prong approach to conducting worksite enforcement: compliance, through I-9 inspections, civil fines, and referrals for debarment; enforcement and the arrest of employers and unauthorized employees; and outreach to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.   Such announcement is aligned with President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order issued on April 18, 2017, and ICE’s existing increased work site enforcement policy.  In recent months, ICE has emphasized more aggressive prosecution of employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrant workers as well as removal of these workers and has initiated raids at employment locations, presenting  audit notifications to employers and requesting documentation of immigration status of employees.

As noted below, it is critical that employers maintain accurate records of employee work authorization, including the I-9 and other documentation.  In addition, employers should put into place policies regarding action to be taken by personnel in the event of a visit by law enforcement authorities.  Further, conducting periodic audits of existing I-9s and I-9 processes will help to minimize ongoing I-9 compliance risks.  Our firm has significant experience in these areas and we are happy to assist with any compliance needs employers may have.

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UPDATE: In remarks to the Heritage Foundation on October 17, 2017, Acting Director of ICE Thomas Homan indicated that he ordered Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) to at least quadruple the amount of time officers spend on work site enforcement.  This policy is aligned with President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order issued on April 18, 2017, and ICE’s existing increased work site enforcement policy.  Acting Director Homan additionally emphasized more aggressive prosecution of employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrant workers as well as removal of these workers.

As noted below, it is critical that employers maintain accurate records of employee work authorization, including the I-9 and other documentation.  In addition, employers should put into place policies regarding action to be taken by personnel in the event of a visit by law enforcement authorities.  Further, conducting periodic audits of existing I-9s and I-9 processes will help to minimize ongoing I-9 compliance risks.  Our firm has significant experience in these areas and we are happy to assist with any compliance needs employers may have.

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Recently, there have been numerous reports of increased raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) targeting individuals illegally in the country.  Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly indicated that ICE officers in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, and New York City arrested more than 680 individuals in connection with raids conducted in the first week of February in a recent press release.  Data compiled by the University of Syracuse indicates that this is a significant increase from enforcement in 2016 – during the concluding years of the previous administration, less than 300 individuals were arrested each week.  Note that both of the above figures represent enforcement actions conducted by ICE’s Fugitive Operations team in the community, including arrests of individuals from their place of work, where they lived, or other community locations focused on by ICE in community arrests.  Such enforcement actions may also extend to those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) which permitted certain individuals who entered the United States as children to remain in the country.

In his press release, Secretary Kelly indicated that the focus on enforcement operations is aligned with President Trump’s immigration goals.  In addition, President Trump indicated on twitter that such raids are in line with his campaign promises.  Both the increase in individuals detained pursuant to community arrests as well as statements from the current administration illustrate that future community enforcement, including worksite enforcement, is likely to ramp up in coming years.

Due to the anticipated increase in worksite enforcement, it is critical that employers maintain accurate records of employee work authorization, including the I-9 and other documentation.  In addition, employers should put into place policies regarding action to be taken by personnel in the event of a visit by law enforcement authorities.  Our firm has significant experience in both areas and we are happy to assist with any compliance needs employers may have.

For any questions related to a specific case and potential strategies and alternatives, please feel free to reach out to us.

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