U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has announced that it will be operating under an updated worksite enforcement strategy. ICE and DHS have put employers on notice: “ICE will focus its resources in the worksite enforcement program on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers in order to target the root cause of illegal immigration.” The new strategy reflects a strong focus on prosecution of employers who hire “illegal workers,” with a more humanitarian attitude toward the unauthorized workers who may be arrested during worksite enforcement operations.

Employers are encouraged to be proactive in their preparations for the new enforcement strategy. To avoid hiring unauthorized workers (and potentially becoming tomorrow’s headline), there are numerous steps employers can take. These include: providing I-9 training to human resources; undergoing a voluntary I-9 audit; using the federal government’s E-Verify system or the Social Security Administration’s Social Security Number Verification Service; implementing a Social Security no-match policy and a comprehensive immigration compliance policy; and ensuring the proper use of, and immigration compliance by, subcontractors.

For employers, taking steps to ensure an authorized workforce should be a top priority. The Seyfarth Workforce Authorization Team (SWATeam) assists clients with the increasingly complex landscape surrounding I-9 verification issues (including auditing and E-Verify participation), such as social security mismatch letter best practices, state-level immigration obligations, ICE raids, and associated matters.