Daniel N. Ramirez – Texas Employment & Labor Lawyers – On the Job
In addition to my employment practice, I represent companies with their I-9/Immigration compliance matters, which is featured in the recently published Texas Super Lawyers, Rising Stars Edition:
This area of the law has steadily affected more and more employers throughout the nation—regardless of the size of an employer. As part of my immigration compliance practice, I advise employers how to implement policies and practices that minimize and if not eliminate liability. I also represent employers who are being investigated by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”) and have pending criminal investigations.
Although the ICE initiatives are ensuring employers do not hire unauthorized employees—ICE initiates will not resolve the issue of the millions of Hispanics that illegally reside in the United States. The nation as a whole needs to realize that the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States are a crucial component of this nation’s blue collar workforce and economy.
For the short term and at least through the year 2014, we can expect ICE to continue its workforce investigations and issuing civil penalties and possible criminal repercussions against employers. In February 2011, ICE issued 1,000 notice of inspections (NOIs) and I predict ICE will issue another 1,000 NOIs at the mid-year point in 2011. So employers, many of whom support comprehensive immigration reform, must prepare themselves for the ongoing government investigations of their workforce to avoid and minimize the potential liability associated with ICE’s initiatives. For those employers in an industry with a high number of Hispanic workers (e.g., hotels, restaurants, meat and poultry industry, construction, or other similar industry), ICE will require employers to take a second look at their hiring and I-9 practices to ensure they are prepared to brace themselves for the continual wave of I-9 audits that will affect the way these employers do business. If you don’t think this is an exaggeration of ICE’s consequences, just look at the detrimental consequences that ICE has recently created for Chipotle restaurants (i.e., required to terminate 350 plus employees in Minnesota and this case is still pending) and other Fortune 1000 companies that have been under ICE’s microscope.
Overall, comprehensive immigration reform with a path to earned legalization for all hard working immigrants would provide a system that guarantees immigrant workers full labor and civil rights protections, and a road to U.S. citizenship. The continued workforce investigations by ICE along with immigration reform would be the answer to resolving the informal labor market that drives down wages and labor protections for all U.S. workers and penalizing employers for hiring workers who fall into such categories.
Daniel N. Ramirezis a named partner at Monty & Ramirez, LLP. He is board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Specialization and has been recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine.