In May, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that its Homeland Security Investigations division had been busy. In a press release, it said:
From Oct. 1, 2017, through May 4, HSI opened 3,510 worksite investigations; initiated 2,282 I-9 audits; and made 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite-related arrests, respectively. In comparison, for fiscal year 2017 – running 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.
ICE audits check to ensure that employers are verifying the identity and employment eligibility of their employees, and that they’re documenting them properly.
“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,” said Acting Executive Associate Director for Homeland Security Investigations, Derek Benner.
When these statistics were announced, we listed basic advice for individuals who are stopped by ICE, but Gasparian Spivey also helps businesses prepare for and deal with I-9 audits as well. In our experience, employers in industries that use a lot of independent contractors such as construction or landscaping are often targeted for I-9 audits. Restaurants, hotels, and service industries with high turnover are also at higher risk for I-9 audits, so companies in those fields should be alert.
Businesses that fit these profiles should prepare for I-9 audits by consulting immigration attorneys with experience in this area. Gasparian Spivey represents employers throughout the region on I-9 compliance and helps them respond to I-9 audits. We also work proactively with companies to help them put in place best practices for I-9 compliance.