As appeared in the Employment Law Post blogsite "Human Resources News," on March 3, 2010.

On Tuesday, March 2, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it had sent 180 notices of inspections (NOIs) to employers in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

At least 30 NOIs have been sent to employers in Tennessee and another 30 or so to employers located in southern and central Alabama. ICE has not yet disclosed the targeted employers' names.

NOIs notify employers that ICE will be inspecting their employment verification records to determine whether they are complying with all employment eligibility verification laws and regulations. Also, the notices are accompanied by subpoenas requiring employers to provide a long list of documents such as:

  • a list of current and terminated employees with hired and termination dates, names, social security numbers, and dates of birth;
  • quarterly wage and hour reports and/or payroll data for all employees covering the period of inspection;
  • quarterly tax statements; and
  • all correspondence with the Social Security Administration, including "no-match" letters. Inspections are one of the most powerful tools the federal government has to enforce employment and immigration laws. In July 2009, ICE sent similar notices to 652 businesses nationwide. And an additional 1,000 NOIs were sent to employers associated with critical infrastructure in November.

There is no doubt that ICE is making a renewed effort to focus on holding employers accountable for their hiring practices. We expect more NOIs to be issued in the near future. We encourage employers to conduct internal I-9 audits and put their internal immigration compliance programs in order.