The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) office recently notified 1,000 employers that the government will audit their Form I-9 employment records as part of the Department’s efforts to eliminate the hiring of undocumented immigrants. Upon receiving a notice of inspection, employers are generally given three business days to present I-9 Forms, as well as supporting documentation, which could include payroll records and a list of current employees. In serving these notices, ICE announced that it is targeting industries that play a role in the nation’s “critical infrastructure and key resources.” ICE is focused on seventeen industries, including those associated with agriculture and food, information technology, health care, water treatment, transportation, financial services, construction, and postal and shipping. ICE also made clear that it is auditing “employers of all sizes and in every state in the nation.”
The notices of inspection issued on June 16, 2011, were the fifth similar round of mass notices distributed by ICE. The most recent issuance occurred in February 2011 when 1,000 employers were similarly investigated. Thus far in the current fiscal year beginning October 1, 2010, ICE has audited nearly 2,400 companies, which represents an increase from last year’s total of approximately 2,200 audits. These audits are playing a key role in the current administration’s enforcement of immigration laws.
Employers, especially those in the targeted industries, may consider conducting self-audits of their I-9 Forms prior to possible receipt of an ICE notice of inspection.