By Wassem Amin, Esq.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government has launched an aggressive campaign against employers suspected of hiring illegal immigrants. It is reported that the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for these investigations, have notified nearly 1,000 business across the country that they were being audited. The so called “silent raids” by ICE have targeted a wide range of industries, including restaurants, food processing, high-tech manufacturing, agriculture, and others. Despite immigration reform languishing in Congress, the latest raids suggest that the government is not suspending its enforcement actions.
The primary worksite enforcement mechanism used by ICE is the so-called I-9 Audit, together with the administrative fine procedure in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Business selected for audits undergo a comprehensive review of I-9 forms and payroll records. As part of the continuing investigation against the employer, employees that are detained will be interrogated and are often asked to give damaging testimony against the company.
Employers should know that current enforcement priorities focus on the employers rather than the employees.
Audits may result in civil penalties and may form the basis for criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers or commit other egregious violations. The investigation may ultimately lead to criminal sanctions and/or civil fines against employers for hiring or harboring undocumented workers and/or for money laundering. Asset forfeiture tools will also utilized to seize any assets that have been deemed products of the unlawful activity.
An employer selected for an audit must immediately seek counsel from an attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of ICE investigations.
Wassem M. Amin, Esq., MBA is an Attorney at Dhar Law, LLP in Boston, MA. Wassem has extensive experience as a business advisor and consultant, domestically and abroad (in the Middle East region), having worked as a consultant for over 9 years. Wassem focuses his practice on Business Immigration and Corporate/Business Law and is also the Vice-Chairman for the Middle East Division of the ABA and the Vice-Chairman for the Islamic Finance Committee of the ABA. For more information, please visit http://www.dharlawllp.com and email Wassem at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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