ICE audits 1,000 companies…make sure your company is ready!
The latter part of February 2011 was a busy month for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). ICE heated up its investigation efforts by starting 1,000 investigations of employers nationwide. These investigations are referred to as Notices of Inspections (“NOI”). During the NOI process, ICE audits an employer’s original Form I-9s (“I-9”), documents submitted by employees in support of the I-9 and other company documents such as employee roster or payroll report, monthly payroll reports, tax statements, Articles of Incorporation, and business licenses. Employers receiving these NOIs have up to 72 hours in which to submit the requested documents and is reviewing the I-9s for potential violations and will issue monetary penalties associated to certain errors associated with the I-9.
Because of ICE’s investigative efforts, it is requiring 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 employer like 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.
The NOI investigative process can expose the employer to fines ranging from $110 to $1,100 per error on each I-9, which can easily total $50,000 in fines. So what should an employer do if they receive an NOI? A company that receives an NOI should contact an experienced immigration compliance attorney to represent them during this process. Monty & Ramirez, for example, is a firm that has represented employers involved in the largest ICE raids and investigations in U.S. history. We represent clients faced with NOIs and ICE raids and has been effective in reducing a company’s possible liability when our firm is given the opportunity to get involved to minimize, if not eliminate liability.
Overall, our law firm recommends that your company take steps now to be proactive before being a victim of ICE. More now than before, your company must develop an immigration compliance practice and policy that is in line with ICE’s best hiring practices to deal with the NOIs that will continue through the year 2014.
Daniel N. Ramirezis a named partner at Monty & Ramirez. 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.