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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. Pre-Population: Ever-Changing Positions from Immigration-Related Agencies

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    The immigration-related agencies’ positions on the pre-population of data in Section 1 of the I-9 form is everchanging. At about the time of our publication of the book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, Bruce Buchanan and Greg Siskind, 2d ed. (2017), the USCIS altered its position again.

    The USCIS added the following in I-9 Central, Section 1, Questions & Answers:

    Question: Can Section 1 of Form I-9 be auto-populated by an electronic system that collects information during the on-boarding process for a new hire if the employee is required to verify that the information is correct and can make corrections or add information if necessary?

    Answer: DHS regulations require that the employee completes Section 1 of Form I-9. Employers can offer employees electronic tools to facilitate the Section 1 completion process, as long as this regulatory requirement and the regulatory requirements for the electronic generation of Form I-9 continue to be met.

    This answer is contrary to the position that USCIS articulated in the E-Verify newsletter, November 2016, which the book quoted as follows:

    USCIS stated Section 1 of Form I-9 could not be pre-populated. Pre-population involves the electronic inclusion of data about the employee in Section 1 by Form I-9 software programs without the employee having to write the information in Section 1.

    See Chapter 2, Question 2.12, p. 23-24.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and OSC (now renamed the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the U.S. Department of Justice) have not changed their positions which were discussed on p. 24 of The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook. Thus, ICE holds no official position on the pre-population of Section 1 by electronic Form I-9 software programs. This is a change in past policy in which ICE stated pre-population could not be done by employers. On the other hand, in August 2013, the OSC stated that it discouraged the practice of pre-population because “it increases the likelihood of including inaccurate or outdated information.”

    I invite anybody who has the book - The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379, to alert me of any substantive changes that have been made in employer immigration compliance since the publication of the book. As we know, immigration law is everchanging and I want to keep the book up to date. I would like to thank Dave Fowler of Worksite Compliance Services for pointing out the change related to pre-population.
  2. Cost of Immigration Violations Continue to Rise

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    Effective January 20, 2018, the civil penalties for a variety of immigration-related violations increased dues to an adjustment for inflation. Below is a chart setting forth the old and new amounts:

    Type of Violation Old Amounts New Amounts
    I-9 substantive violation $220 - $2191 $224 - $2236
    Knowingly employing undocumented worker $548 - $4384 $559 - $4473
    Unfair Documentary Practice $181 - $1811 $185 - $1848
    Immigration-Related Discrimination $452 - $3621 $461 - $3695

    These increases are another reason to conduct an internal audit of your I-9 forms. Through such, an employer can remedy or mitigate many violations before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Immigrations and Employees Rights Section (IER) discovers them. To learn more about employer immigration compliance and steps you can take to prevent I-9 violations and hiring undocumented workers, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  3. 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.
  4. IER Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against CVS subsidiary

    By: Bruce Buchanan Law PLLC

    The Justice Department, through Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), formerly known as the OSC, has reached a settlement with Omnicare Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of CVS Health Corporation, resolving the IER’s investigation into whether the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision.

    The investigation, which was initiated in response to a worker’s complaint, revealed Omnicare engaged in citizenship status discrimination against a work-authorized job applicant by refusing to refer him to the hiring manager for an interview because he was not a permanent resident or U.S. citizen, and removing him from the candidate pool based on his status as an asylee. The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from discriminating against asylees because of their citizenship or immigration status, unless authorized by law to do so.

    Under the settlement agreement, Omnicare will pay $3,621, the maximum civil penalty for a single instance of citizenship status discrimination; post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision; have its staff and its contractors undergo department-provided training on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA; evaluate all employment applicants in a non-discriminatory manner; and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for two years.

    This settlement demonstrates the need for employers, big and small, to be aware of the law as it relates to citizenship status for asylees and other applicants. To learn more about employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379

    Updated 01-30-2018 at 12:00 PM by BBuchanan

  5. California AG Threatens Actions Against Businesses if Don’t Abide by State Law

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra held a press conference on January 18, 2018, wherein he warned California employers that businesses will face fines of up to $10,000 if they assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in potential workplace raids or other similar actions. Becerra’s warning was in response to fears of mass workplace raids due to ICE’s statement that it plans to target Northern California communities for deportations due in part to the state’s “sanctuary” law. Specifically, ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan has told Fox News that “California better hold on tight... If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will.”

    Attorney General Becerra stated, “It’s important, given these rumors that are out there, to let employers know that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office.” Becerra was referring to the new state law called the “Immigrant Worker Protection Act,” which went into effect on January 1, 2018.

    As I previously discussed in my blog (see http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?10179...udits-and-More), California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act requires the following:

    1. employers must notify their employees by written notice within 72 hours of Notice of Inspection (NOI) of I-9 records;
    2. employers must notify their employees, individually, of the results of the I-9 audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within 72 hours of receiving the results of the NOI;
    3. ICE agents are to provide a judicial warrant to employers to access non-public portions of worksites; and
    4. employers are prohibited from sharing confidential employee information, such as Social Security numbers, unless required to do so in a NOI or provided a judicial warrant.


    The law does not restrict ICE from providing a NOI to an employer demanding the employees’ I-9 forms within three days of service of the NOI and the employer being required to honor it.

    For a review of all employment and immigration-related state laws and other issues related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
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