“From Jan. 29 to 31, 2018, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents served notices of inspection (NOIs), also known as I-9 audit notices, to approximately 77 businesses across the San Francisco area of responsibility. A notice of inspection alerts a business owner that HSI is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the law. Employers are required to produce their company’s I-9s within three business days, after which HSI will conduct an inspection for compliance.
ICE Deputy Director Tom Homan previously stated that he has directed Homeland Security Investigations to step up worksite enforcement — to include conducting more I-9 audits in furtherance of pursuing more criminal investigations.
The actions taken this week reflect HSI’s stepped-up efforts to enforce the laws that prohibit businesses from hiring illegal workers. HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy is focused on protecting jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthening public safety and national security.
NOIs were served in San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, and throughout the AOR.
The investigations remain ongoing. Any potential criminal charges or other penalties will be coordinated with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals they hire, and to document that information using the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. A notice of inspection alerts business owners that HSI is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the law. Employers are required to produce their company’s I-9s within three business days, after which HSI will conduct an inspection for compliance. If employers are not in compliance with the law, an I-9 inspection of their business will likely result in civil fines and could lay the groundwork for criminal prosecution, if they are knowingly violating the law.
In FY17, HSI conducted 1,360 I-9 audits and made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests. Businesses were ordered to pay $97.6 million in judicial forfeiture, fines and restitution and $7.8 million in civil fines, including one company whose financial penalties represented the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case.
HSI uses a three-prong approach to conduct worksite enforcement: compliance, through I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment; enforcement, through the criminal arrest of employers and administrative arrest of unauthorized workers; and outreach, through the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE program, to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.
HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. HSI will also continue to use I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law.
Any workers encountered during these investigations who are unauthorized to remain in the U.S. are subject to administrative arrest and removal from the country.”