On June 4, 2015, ICE reminded employers across the country of the I-9 employment eligibility verification requirements and the consequences for violations when it issued a fine against Broetje Orchards in Washington state for employing close to 1,000 unauthorized workers. The matter involving Broetje Orchards has been ongoing for several years, after the company was initially audited and notified that large sectors of its workforce were unauthorized workers. The civil penalty of $2.25 million, resulting after auditors determined the company continued to employ unauthorized workers, is believed to be one of the largest fines ever levied against an agricultural company.
This multimillion dollar fine highlights the severe consequences for businesses and stresses the importance of complying with the U.S. immigration employment eligibility verification laws. The case underscores the complexities for employers navigating the constantly changing U.S. immigration policies and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.