Employers Should Review Policies And Consider Self-Audits U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that it was issuing Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 180 employers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, thus commencing an audit of each company's Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification records. Specifically, the NOI alerts businesses that ICE will be inspecting their hiring records to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations. The agency's press release confirmed the government is following through on the policy announced in 2009 that "focuses resources on the auditing and investigation of employers suspected of cultivating illegal workplaces by knowingly employing illegal workers."

ICE's latest round of audits follow up on the July 1, 2009 nationwide I-9 audit blitz when it issued over 650 NOIs to employers and a second round in November which involved the issuance of NOIs to an additional 1,000 employers across the country. Based on ICE's announced policy and formal (and informal) statements from government officials, one can reasonably expect that I-9 audits will continue and will occur in other states in the South and elsewhere across the country in the coming months. Employers are urged to review their I-9 policies and consider a self-audit of I-9 records, both of which will almost certainly result in a reduction in penalties in the event of an I-9 audit.

Note: This article was published in the March/April 2010 issue of the Employment Law Authority.