ICE Confirms I-9 Audit Surge

By Jennifer Pawlak

In a recent news conference, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that it has issued more than 3,000 Notices of Inspection to employers across the country. Coupled with the enforcement-of-late directed at those with removal orders, including the arrest of 680 in Mississippi, this has been a busy summer for ICE and HSI.

Why Now?

It’s actually not so different from the last few years; we’re all just a little more aware lately. As I shared earlier, enforcement action is on the rise and penalties loom large. (Be sure to check out a few other recent decisions here.) Additionally, the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA) has compiled a map of enforcement actions dating from January 2017. It’s interesting – but perhaps not surprising – to see where many of the activities have taken place. AILA’s interactive map lets you drill down on a state-by-state or location-specific basis (note that not all of these actions are for I-9 or work site enforcement, but rather the map is a compilation of ALL enforcement actions).

Attention Oregon

At the same time that these NOIs are being delivered, some states are enacting regulations to inform workers when I-9 audits do happen. Recently, Oregon passed SB370 requiring employers to post notice in a conspicuous location that an inspection has been requested in order to inform its workforce of (any federal agency’s) said inspection. California law already requires this, and even provides a template for same (n.b. the Oregon Department of Labor has until January 1, 2020 to publish such a template). And while all states have their own data breach notification regulations, for example, this federal-agency-inspection-notification wave has not yet hit. California generally leads the way with worker protection and notification, so it may just be a matter of time before we start seeing other states follow suit, especially in a time when states are flexing their rights on a host of issues.

But What Do I Do

Worried that you’re getting the next Notice of Inspection? Need a refresher on I-9 compliance? Read over my “back to basics” article or FAQ. Reach out with any questions! And remember that, more or less, any error on an I-9 is a fine-able offense, so take the time now to go over your forms to make sure you’re ready for ICE’s visit!

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