Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Govern yourself accordingly..."

This is a familiar phrase typically used by attorneys when putting a party on 'notice' that his or her legal rights are about to be affected by an upcoming event or legal proceeding.

This seems to be an appropriate phrase in light of a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on its effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration. In a News Release by the DHS dated July 1, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement - ("ICE" - the immigration enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) - announced the launch of a new initiative to significantly increase the number of audits it will perform on employer’s records. An ICE audit will scrutinize whether an employer has properly documented its employees' authorization to work in the U.S.

[This documentation is reflected on your 'I-9 Form'. Generally, every employer is required to properly complete an I-9 Form for each employee. Failure to properly complete the form may result in significant fines and penalties. If you have not conducted a 'self-audit' of your I-9 Forms recently, we can help.]

Just how significant does ‘significant’ mean? In one day, (July 2nd), ICE issued Notices of Inspection to 652 businesses around the country. By comparison, only 503 Notices were issued for the entire 2008 fiscal year!

This is announced as a new “first step in ICE’s long-term strategy to address and deter illegal employment” by reducing the demand for undocumented workers. This shift in focus means that ICE is re-directing its resources to be more vigilant in its audits and investigation of U.S. employers.

ICE has sent a warning message to all employers that they will be watching more closely than ever for proper documentation of your employees. ICE has put you on notice. Govern yourselves accordingly….

No comments: