So your company was hit with an ICE audit, you paid the fine, told ICE you would terminate the unauthorized employees, and now you can relax and move on to concentrate on your core business -right? Not so fast.
Did you make sure the person verifying I-9s was trained and is minimizing the risk of hiring more unauthorized workers using fraudulent documents? Did you make sure the unauthorized workers on the Confirmation of Suspect Documents list were in fact terminated? Most importantly, have all your supervisors and management teams been informed of the necessity of avoiding any direct or indirect recruiting or hiring or retaining of unauthorized workers?
Apparently management at Mary’s Gone Crackers, Inc. decided their ICE Settlement Agreement buried the hatchet and they could go about their business. Such blindness is painful. Now they have to pay $1.5 million and institute a compliance program which will be monitored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for 2 years. Why? After telling ICE that 50 employees who were unauthorized to work had quit or would be fired the company continued to employ one individual and rehired many others all under new names. Homeland Security Investigations got wind of the “continuing to hire” violations and started a criminal investigation. Luckily, the company cooperated and was able to obtain a non-prosecution agreement.
“Our agents are determined to hold those who choose to defraud the system accountable in order to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce,” HIS Special Agent Ryan L. Spradlin said.
Why subject yourself to such bad publicity, cost and disruption at the workplace? Fraud is worse than the original violations and the likelihood of it being uncovered is great. Your supervisors and managers are representatives of your company and they must get on the bandwagon of risk avoidance by understanding that knowingly hiring or continuing to hire unauthorized workers just is not acceptable, especially after an ICE audit!
Employers are between a rock and a hard place when finding new workers in a tight labor market is difficult but it is far worse to spend time in the penitentiary, go bankrupt, face embarrassing publicity, all the while under the radar of government supervision.
If we can help you audit your verification and hiring practices before, during, or after an ICE audit, we would love to be there for you. Auditing, training, and adopting best practices is good business.