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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. ICE Targeting California for More “Silent Raids”

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law


    On the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) worksite enforcement actions/inspections against 97 7-Eleven convenience stores, ICE announced it has conducted I-9 inspections of 77 employers in the San Francisco and Sacramento areas. ICE did not identify any of the businesses its agents visited in the Bay Area and the Sacramento region. However, just the fact that ICE served subpoenas on so many employers demanding their I-9 forms and then announced it to the media, demonstrates ICE is trying to put the fear of government action in the minds of every employer, especially in California.

    When ICE conducts an I-9 inspection, their agents show up at employer locations and serve a subpoena and Notice of Inspection (NOI) demanding the employer produce the I-9 forms of current employees, and often former employees, within three days of service. Often, these inspections are referred to as “silent raids” because they can have the same effect as a raid – loss of employees through ICE detention, terminations or quick abandonment of jobs.

    According to James Schwab, a spokesman for ICE, their operation is part of a strategy that 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.”

    It is interesting that ICE chose California for these actions as ICE and the Trump administration are involved in an assault on California due to their recent legislation declaring California as a sanctuary state. Thomas D. Homan, acting director of ICE, has criticized California for state and local efforts to protect undocumented immigrants and limit law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with immigration officials. Homan recently stated “We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court, and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.”

    California recently enacted legislation requiring employers notify their workers of such an ICE audit and provide them with the results. The law also mandates that employers ask ICE to obtain a judicial warrant in some situations though not for NOIs. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently held a press conference where he warned California employers of the consequences of violating this legislation. Thus, many California employers are perplexed as to how to be in abeyance of both federal and state immigration laws.

    Angelo Paparelli, a prominent immigration attorney with Seyfarth Shaw, stated “Serving 77 notices of inspection on different employers in the last three days within a single area of responsibility, in this case, San Francisco, appears unprecedented.”

    After the businesses comply with the subpoena/NOI, ICE auditors will carefully review the I-9 forms to determine whether undocumented workers are employed at the business and whether the I-9 forms have substantive errors, which could cost $224 to $2236 per I-9 form. If undocumented workers are employed, ICE may return to the employer and detain the undocumented workers. Alternatively, ICE may issue a Notice of Suspect Documents to the employer stating which employees do not have valid work authorization. If after the employer gives its employees an opportunity to provide valid documentation (“newer and better documentation”), the employees fail to provide such, the employer must discharge those employees or face fines of up to $4473 per employee.

    I will keep you apprised on further developments of these “silent raids” and the 7-Eleven ones. If you are concerned about your I-9 forms and the legal status of your employees, I urge you to retain an immigration attorney trained in worksite enforcement, who can spearhead an internal I-9 audit.

    If you want a full discussion of internal I-9 audits and other important immigration compliance issues, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. ICE Targeted 7-Eleven Stores for “Silent Raids”

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    As discussed in my prior blog entry (http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?10245...-Service-Chain) that Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) would be targeting a national food service chain, ICE delivered Notice of Inspections (NOIs) (sometimes referred to as “silent raids”) at 98 7-Eleven stores nationwide on January 10, 2018 demanding to see the I-9 forms of all employees. Furthermore, ICE detained 21 employees.

    The 7-Eleven stores involved are in 17 states, including California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. 7-Eleven, Inc. issued a statement stating each of the stores is a franchise, who is “solely responsible for their employees, including who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States.” Furthermore, it stated that the franchise agreements of franchisees “convicted” of violating immigration laws, have been terminated.

    ICE referred to their recent actions as a “follow-up” of a 2013 investigation that resulted in the arrests and convictions of five franchise owners in New York and Virginia for harboring undocumented workers and wire fraud. Because of these convictions, it spawned the largest forfeiture in ICE history – forfeiture of franchise rights to 14 stores, forfeiture of five houses, valued at $1.3 million, and restitution of over $2.6 million for back wages stolen from employees. See my blog entry (http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?8272-...in-ICE-History) for October 6, 2014 for more details on the 2014 convictions.

    Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE, issued a statement – “Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable.”

    One of the unique aspects of the delivery of NOIs is the detention of 21 employees. In the Obama administration, which issued thousands of NOIs every year, ICE would not normally detain workers at the time of the NOI; rather, ICE would issue a Notice of Suspect Documents to the employer stating the named employees’ documentation did not demonstrate work authorization. Then the employer gave the employee an opportunity to provide “new” documentation. If employees were unable to provide valid documentation, the employer had to discharge the employees or face penalties. However, at no point in this process did ICE seek to detain undocumented workers.

    Homan had previously stated ICE was going to detain undocumented workers during NOIs and now we know how ICE is going to accomplish this. Unless ICE can establish that the employer was aware or should have been aware of the workers’ undocumented status, the employer will not face civil penalties or criminal penalties. In ICE’s previous actions toward 7-Eleven franchises, it established knowledge of undocumented status.

    After the indictments and convictions of the store owners in New York and Virginia in 2013 and 2014, 7-Eleven’s corporate office stated it would “take aggressive actions to audit the employment status of all of its franchisees’ employees.” However, 7-Elevens recent statement appears to try and wash their hands of any responsibility or liability for the franchisees’ actions.

    I will keep you abreast of future developments in the case. For a review of ICE’s civil and criminal actions against employers as well as other employer immigration compliance issues, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
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