U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the number of workplace investigations it has conducted for illegal labor this year has already doubled the entire amount conducted last year. The results have been more arrests and more fines collected half way through this fiscal year than all of last.
ICE reported that from Oct. 1 2017 through May 4, Homeland Security Investigations, the division responsible for combating immigration and document fraud, opened 3,510 worksite investigations; initiated 2,282 I-9 audits; and made 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite-related arrests, respectively.
For the entire 2017 fiscal year, which ran from October 2016 to September 2017 – HSI opened 1,716 worksite investigations; initiated 1,360 I-9 audits; and made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests related to worksite enforcement.
“Our worksite enforcement strategy continues to focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law,” HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Derek N. Benner said.
“HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices.”
ICE is the federal department responsible for enforcing the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, which requires that employers verify any employee they hire is legally authorized to work in the U.S. Employers are required to document that verification using the I-9 form.
Failure to follow the IRCA and verify employee work eligibility can result in criminal and civil penalties. Businesses were ordered to pay to than $100 million in fines and restitution in 2017.
“Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records. All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law,” Benner said.
“Worksite enforcement protects jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminates unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.”