According to data recently released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency initiated 6,848 worksite investigations and 5,981 I-9 audits in fiscal year 2018—both substantial increases from 2017. As a result of ICE enforcement actions over the course of the year, businesses were ordered to pay more than $10.2 million in judicial fines, forfeitures, and restitutions, and an additional $10.2 million in civil penalties.
Because ICE’s compliance efforts are grounded on an I-9 auditing program, there are a number of simple steps that businesses can take to ensure that they are not contributing to the agency’s statistics next year. Consider developing employee on-boarding checklists, implementing record retention procedures, and, perhaps most importantly, conducting regular self-audits. These audits should be designed to ensure that:
- Every employee hired for compensation has an I-9 on file
- All supporting documentation required by the I-9 is on file and current
- Your business is using the most recent I-9 form from ICE’s website
- Your business is following the I-9 form instructions to the letter
Self-auditing will not only help your business to identify record errors and procedural deficiencies, it may help to demonstrate consistency and improvement to ICE agents in the event of an actual audit. It may also save your business thousands of dollars in civil fines.
Andrew Scott is a Member of PK Law and part of the firm’s Labor and Employment Group. He represents private sector employers and public schools before federal and state courts, federal and state civil rights agencies, and the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings on a variety of matters, including employment discrimination litigation, collective bargaining, teacher and student discipline, construction and procurement, and wage and hour claims. Mr. Scott also advises clients on the design and implementation of employment agreements, employee handbooks, policies and procedures. Mr. Scott can be reached at 410-339-6744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.