According to a September 28, 2010, news release from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a $1,047,110.00 fine settlement has been reached with the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for violations of an employer's obligation to verify the employment eligibility of its workers. The settlement is the result of a Form I-9 inspection of Abercrombie & Fitch's retail stores in Michigan. The audit uncovered numerous technology-related deficiencies in Abercrombie & Fitch's electronic I-9 verification system. “Employers are responsible not only for the people they hire but also for the internal systems they choose to utilize to manage their employment process and those systems must result in effective compliance,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Ohio and Michigan. “This settlement should serve as a warning to other companies that may not yet take the employment verification process seriously or provide it the attention it warrants.” (Emphasis added.)
The I-9 inspections are the result of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive strategy to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce. Under this strategy, ICE is focusing its resources on the auditing and investigation (called “silent raids”) of employers suspected of cultivating illegal workplaces by knowingly employing illegal workers. In the last year, ICE has leveled a record number of civil and criminal penalties against employers who violate immigration laws related to the I-9 process which was established in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual's identity and employment eligibility document(s). An employer is responsible for determining whether the documents presented by the employee reasonably appear on their face to be genuine and to relate to the person presenting them. If ICE discovers discrepancies in the I-9s or can document the employer’s failure to comply with I-9 requirements, the employer may well find itself the subject of sizeable fines and/or charges of criminal misconduct.