I-9 & Worksite Audits to Quadruple in 2018: How to Survive the Crackdown

  • "ICE Pledges Quadrupling of Workplace Audits in 2018"
  • "Employers: Expect More Form I-9 Audits & Arrests"
  • "Baby, It's Cold Out There: Immigration Violations Cost Company a Record $95 Million"

These real-life headlines tell you why 2018 is the year your organization needs to get serious about its I-9, E-Verify and immigration compliance.

“Employers are being squeezed from every side,” says John Fay, an immigration attorney at the Law Logix division of Hyland Software and a featured speaker at the LEAP 2018 conference. “The Trump Administration has made no secret of its intention to tighten immigration rules and ramp up enforcement. At the same time, employers are also seeing a significant increase in state immigration laws.”

President Trump often speaks of jobs as the main “magnet” for illegal immigration. He views ICE’s new crackdown on employers who hire undocumented workers as building a “virtual wall” against illegal immigration and removing the “pull” from that magnet. What does this mean for HR?

More Workplace Audits  The director of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) told his agency to conduct “four to five times” the number of worksite immigration raids in 2018 than it did last year. That’s a shocking spike in enforcement … and ICE is already following through. This month, ICE raided 77 businesses in California on one day. And on a day in January, agents raided nearly 100 7-Eleven stores in 17 states. The actions, said ICE’s director, are “a harbinger of what’s to come.”

More I-9 Enforcement  I-9 audits had been on the decline since 2013, when President Obama shifted focus from worksites to deporting undocumented people with criminal records. But last year, ICE audited 1,360 organizations, leading to 71 indictments and 55 convictions of business owners, managers and HR directors. Expect even more scrutiny in 2018.

Eye-Popping Penalties  The administration is also using “dollar shock” to scare employers straight. ICE recently announced the largest payment ever in an immigration or I-9 Form investigation – $95 million to settle criminal and civil charges that a Pennsylvania tree company hired and rehired undocumented workers.

But wait, you say, we don’t hire any undocumented workers! Sadly, as many employers have learned, ICE can still penalize you for simple “paperwork” violations (which can now be as high as $2,191 per form), just because you failed to follow the correct process. And it all begins (and ends) with the Form I-9.

E-Verify: Voluntary to Mandatory?  E-Verify, the online tool that allows employers to confirm employment eligibility electronically, is still voluntary in most states. President Trump has proposed making it mandatory “to protect jobs for American workers.” This could become a bargaining chip in the upcoming debate over DACA and border security.

The bottom line: 2018 is not the year to leave your I-9, E-Verify and immigration compliance up to chance. Join me at LEAP 2018, April 11-13 in Las Vegas, to learn what HR must do now to avoid the ICE crackdown and comply with the changing laws. Plus, you’ll have a fabulous time with your peers at the legendary Caesars Palace.