A four-day raid on businesses in sanctuary cities across the U.S. carried out last month, resulted in the arrests of nearly 500 people. As immigration enforcement heightens and worries of deportation hover over the heads of many immigrants, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and USCIS continue to crack down on employers.
Businesses in many states, including Illinois, are asking how to prepare for a site visit or audit, which today seems potentially even more imminent than in the past since the Trump administration has increased the number of immigration officers in the U.S. government by 10,000.
With site visits increases and an emphasis on immigration policy enforcement across the board, HR should be well-prepared for a visit from government agencies. Not only is the attention of U.S. narrowed in on immigration violations in the workplace, the penalties have enhanced as well. Organizations can be part of the solution by simply staying organized, having a plan in place and ensuring that the organization is in compliance well before ICE or USCIS come knocking.
Preparing for an immigration enforcement visit
I-9 compliance is the key to maintaining immigration compliance and preparing for a site visit. Every person hired at the organization must complete an I-9. Failure to produce an I-9 form when under inspection by ICE could result in fines up to $1,100 per violation and other penalties.
What to expect
As with some immigration inspections, site visits are often unannounced. Officials can visit an organization based on random selection or tips from the public. I-9-related documentation, if requested, is required. However, it’s not required to be produced the day of the site visit; instead, the company has three days to gather necessary documentation and submit to ICE.
How to prepare
It’s critical to, first, have a plan in place in case of a site visit. Part of preparing for a site visit includes creating a plan for what to do when government officials arrive. Front desk staff should be polite and helpful, but should also know exactly who to contact. Once a designated HR representative or other personnel with access to immigration documentation is contacted, that person should be sure to contact legal counsel as soon as possible and not speak openly about I-9s or other immigration procedures at the company without direction from the attorney. Statements made about immigration procedures can be used against the organization in the case of a potential violation.