Dealing with Workplace Immigration Enforcement and Raids

Immigration LawWhen you hear the word “ice,” what usually comes to mind? Your obvious answer may be a frozen piece or chunk of water.

In this case, the term “ICE” used with all capital letters stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is a group of government agents who focus on ensuring that businesses follow immigration workplace laws and that people are not staying/working in the U.S. illegally.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there were approximately 11.4 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. during 2012. One of the ways that ICE can check for an individual’s legal status or ability to work in the U.S. is by inspecting employers’ I-9 forms.

In our blog, “Charting the I-9 Process,” we discussed how important the I-9 form is for your hiring process and employees. This form is what confirms an employee’s ability to work in the U.S.

Making sure all of your employees’ I-9 forms are properly filled out is critical when it comes to immigration laws. Your business can be fined and given civil penalties for I-9 errors and hiring immigrants who are not legally authorized to work for you.

These two issues are grounds for trouble with ICE agents, who can come to your business unexpectedly and unannounced. This is why it is important to know how to prepare for these immigration raids.

Here are seven things to keep in mind:

1. Conduct internal I-9 audits on a regular basis in order to help you monitor your employees’ ability to work for you.

2. If you find that you have hired an undocumented employee, you must terminate them.

3. ICE agents must have a court ordered warrant signed by a judge in order to enter private areas of your business.

Note: These agents can enter areas deemed as public, but must have a Notice of Investigation to investigate your business. Companies are then given three business days to provide I-9 forms and other necessary documents for review.

4. You must keep employee I-9 forms for 3 years post their hire or 1 year after termination.

5. Designate someone from your business to be the ICE agents’ initial contact. This individual will refer the agents to proper departments such as HR and Legal.

6. Everyone has a right to remain silent and to speak with a lawyer.

7. Make sure all employees know not to run away or show signs of panic. This can lead ICE agents to believe you and your employees have something to hide.

At The Orsus Group, we believe in making sure you are prepared for any employment issues that may arise.

If you are unsure whether or not your business complies with immigration laws and has proper I-9 forms, contact us today. We will help you make sure you are on the right track.