A primary focus of President Obama’s immigration policy has been investigations of companies to determine whether they employ undocumented immigrants. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of audits conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on companies across the country. Audits of employer I-9 forms increased from 250 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. From fiscal years 2009 to 2012, the total amount of fines grew from USD$1 million to nearly USD$13 million. The number of company managers arrested also has increased, according to data provided by ICE.

ICE officers conducting audits review payroll records to identify names that don’t match Social Security numbers and other identification databases. A recent Associated Press article suggests, based on a review of audits that resulted in fines in fiscal year 2011, that certain industries reliant on manual labor or that have historically hired immigrants are being targeted. ICE has stated, however, that geography, company size, or industry are not factors.

Elizabeth Edgar