Following President Donald Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, issued in January 2017, companies and immigration practitioners have witnessed increased scrutiny over immigration compliance. In an October 2017 speech at the Heritage Foundation, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan confirmed his plans to follow the president's orders to increase enforcement in order to prevent fraud and abuse.

ICE plans to increase enforcement

ICE has already increased inspections and worksite operations, and has indicated that the agency will:

  • significantly boost the number of inspections in the upcoming fiscal year;
  • multiply the time spent on enforcement by four or five times;
  • target undocumented employees for detention and removal; and
  • prosecute employers for knowingly hiring or retaining workers who lack valid US employment authorisation.

ICE can prosecute employers for both actual and constructive knowledge that an employee does not have employment authorisation (8 USC Section 1324a(a)). 'Constructive knowledge' is defined as "knowledge which may fairly be inferred through notice of certain facts and circumstances which would lead a person, through the exercise of reasonable care, to know about a certain condition".

Higher fines and compliance for companies

In addition to prosecuting employers, the government is raising monetary fines. For example, fines for I-9 paperwork violations were almost doubled in 2016. It is crucial that employers are prepared for greater scrutiny of employment sites and immigration forms. Employers should create compliance programmes, conduct immigration compliance training and perform internal audits to ascertain areas that may be scrutinised under an audit.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.

For further information on this topic please contact Melissa B Winkler at Fakhoury Law Group PC by telephone (+1 248 643 4900) or email (melissa@employmentimmigration.com). The Fakhoury Law Group PC website can be accessed at www.employmentimmigration.com.