On January 10, 2018, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials conducted raidsof about 100 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country, arresting 21 people involved in employing undocumented workers. This was the largest raid on a business suspected of employing undocumented immigrants conducted during the Trump administration. ICE officials indicated that the raids should serve as a warning to businesses who hire undocumented employees. Acting Director, Thomas D. Homan, confirmed that “ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”
The same day, ICE announced a 3-point approach to ensure companies are not employing unauthorized workers:
- I-9 Compliance Inspections, fines, debarment referral, if necessary;
- Arresting employees who are working without authorization, including employer personnel responsible for hiring; and
- Community education addressing compliance and accountability.
Employers are required to confirm and verify employment authorization and the identity of each of their employees, and to complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) for each employee. ICE investigations often stem from examining other criminal violations such as money laundering, fraud, alien smuggling/harboring, etc. As ICE is increasing its efforts to enforce workplace regulations, employers should take special care to ensure their I-9 procedures are up-to-date and accurate.
Companies seeking assistance with compliance issues can obtain certification from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the IMAGE program. To complete certification, companies complete an assessment questionnaire, enroll in the DHS E-verify program, develop a written employment eligibility policy, and submit to an I-9 audit.