U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s former acting Director, Thomas Homan, indicated last fall that he wanted to quadruple worksite enforcement, and ICE is on track to do so. ICE recently announced it performed 3,510 worksite enforcement actions between October 1, 2017 and May 4, 2018. During the entire fiscal year of 2017, ICE conducted only 1,716 actions. ICE has also already performed 2,282 I-9 audits during fiscal year 2018, while performing only 1,360 audits during fiscal year 2017.
As part of the 3,510 worksite enforcement actions, ICE has made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests. It is not yet apparent what types of fines ICE has levied in its enforcement actions, but it has recently issued new guidance indicating that it will fine employers $220 - $2,191 for each I-9 with substantive paperwork errors. In fiscal year 2017, ICE obtained $97.6 million in judicially imposed fines and restitution, and ICE assessed $7.8 million in civil fines. We expect these numbers to be significantly higher in fiscal year 2018. Derek Benner, the Acting Executive Associate Director for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigation division, has indicated ICE would like to open 15,000 audits per year if possible.
Employers should prepare now for increased enforcement activity by performing internal I-9 audits, ensuring they are compliant, and developing contingency plans in the event of an ICE worksite enforcement action.