The latest I-9 Audit Surge and ICE Enforcement Statistics

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is serving more than 500 Form I-9 Notices of Inspection to organizations across the U.S., according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association. As reported by our guest bloggers last week, ICE is continuing and increasing these Form I-9 investigations in order to create a “culture of compliance” in an area that has often been overlooked or ignored by employers. According to sources that have talked with the agency, the 500+ NOIs are largely based on credible leads involving organizations that are suspected of hiring unauthorized workers, underpaying employees or otherwise exploiting the workforce. In general, ICE prioritizes the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers. In related news, the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) is reporting that penalties from worksite enforcement inspections increased five-fold in Fiscal Year 2010 (which runs from October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010). Here is a quick snapshot of the last 3 fiscal years, based on the data from BNA: [table id=3 /] In reviewing the above, it’s important to note that ICE considers five factors in determining penalty amounts. These include the size of the business, good faith effort to comply, seriousness of the violation, whether the violation involved unauthorized workers, and the history of previous violations. These factors can either enhance, mitigate, or have no effect at all on the assessed fine. For a detailed review of the Form I-9 inspection process, please visit the ICE web site here. BNA also provided the results from the two major I-9 investigative sweeps which occurred last year: July 2009 (targeting suspect employers) and November 2009 (targeting employers involved in critical infrastructure).  Here is another snapshot which highlights the key figures from these investigations. [table id=4 /] Note that there are still a large number of Notices of Intent to Fine (NIFs) and cases that have not yet been issued NIFs, so the impact of these investigations cannot fully be assessed at this time. Regardless, it seems clear that we can expect administrative worksite enforcement stats from ICE to continue their steady climb.