Highest Immigration and Customs Enforcement Penalty Ever Served

By Jennifer Pawlak

If you read my last post, and I hope you did, you’ll remember that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) worksite audits – and raids – are on an uptick. And everyone is a potential target now. Alongside the more headline-making manufacturing companies, construction companies, and farms, increased attention is now being paid to employers with remote and multi-location workforces, as well as franchises.

So, to make their presence known, last fall, ICE levied their largest ever civil penalty on Asplundh Tree Experts: $95M. Now, the severity of Asplundh’s penalty was largely due to knowingly hiring unauthorized workers and conspiring at the highest levels to do so. But it started, as most ICE raids do, with a “simple” I-9 audit years before.

I recently returned from a conference in Nashville, hosted by LawLogix, where I was fortunate enough to listen to case studies and guidance doled out by some of the finest immigration attorneys in the country, including some former government attorneys. The takeaway message for me is clear: ICE audits and raids are the real deal. They’re not going away any time soon, and we can expect the recent surge to grow exponentially under the current administration. ICE has stated that they want to be feared by employers and individuals as much as one fears the IRS. They are inviting the media to their raids to get as much coverage as possible. They are looking to make examples. And it’s working. Do a quick search for “ICE raid 2018” and you’ll find pages and pages of search results, the most recent dating to just a few weeks ago. Immigration is the new wave of white-collar crime and the government is here to getcha.

“So, what do I do?!” If your company is already conducting I-9 self-audits you’re on the right track! And if you’ve now entered into panic mode and ICE raids haunt your dreams, don’t despair! You, too, can help your company avoid costly penalties when ICE inevitably knocks on your door. But how?

  • Step one: Take a deep breath.
  • Step two: Pull your payroll records.
  • Step three: Gather up your I-9s (and supporting documents if you keep copies). (If the forms and documents are not already stored separately from the rest of the employee files, consider this your time to make that happen. They should always be kept in a file or binder separate from personnel files.)
  • Step four: Visit the government’s FAQ on self-audits and download the guide to completing one. This isn’t going to be a quick or painless process, even if you don’t have that many employees, so set aside some time to do the audit. And take it seriously! Remember: $1,862 per form X number of employees = money you don’t want to shell out.
  • If that’s overwhelming or you don’t have the time, energy, or inclination, give me a call (or message me or email me)! Paragon Compliance can help you audit your old forms and get you set up to be in compliance going forward.

You’ll be cool, calm, collected, and – most importantly – prepared for the visit from ICE. Isn’t peace of mind great?

  • Every employee must take a yearly anti-harassment training.
  • Public employees can now be held personally liable for harassment.
  • If you hire contractors or third parties, your organization could be responsible for harassment allegations if there is no policy or training in place.
  • Compliance with the new law is required if you wish to bid on public contracts.
  • Supervisors have heightened responsibilities to combat sexual harassment.

So, over the last 365 days, how has your organization complied with the requirements?

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