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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. ICE Announces its Three-prong Approach to Worksite Enforcement

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    On the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “silent raids” on almost 100 7-Eleven convenience stores and the resolution of a worksite enforcement case against Asplundh Tree Experts Co., which paid a record $95 million in fines and forfeitures, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a three-prong approach to conduct worksite enforcement. In doing so, ICE stated this ensures employees are legally authorized to work in the United States for employers, from small start-up operations to the largest corporations.

    This strategy involves a three-prong approach to worksite enforcement: immigration compliance, through Form I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment; enforcement, through the arrest of employers, knowingly employing undocumented workers, and the arrest of unauthorized workers for violation of laws associated with working without authorization; and outreach, through the IMAGE program, to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.

    “Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) prioritizes violators who abuse and exploit their workers, aid in the smuggling or trafficking of their alien workforce into the United States, create false identity documents or facilitate document fraud, or create an entire business model using an unauthorized workforce,” said HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Derek Benner. “Further priority is given to looking closely at those companies or industries that are deemed national security or critical infrastructure interests.” ICE also stated an effective worksite enforcement strategy must address both employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, as well as the workers themselves.

    ICE’s statement highlighted the recent resolution of a case against Asplundh Tree Experts Co., one of the largest privately-held companies in the United States. This case revealed a scheme to unlawfully employ undocumented workers, in which the highest levels of Asplundh management remained willfully blind while lower level managers hired and rehired employees they knew to be ineligible to work in the United States. The company pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a monetary forfeiture judgment in the amount of $80 million – the largest judgment ever handed down in a worksite enforcement investigation. They are also required to abide by an administrative compliance agreement. Pursuant to a separate civil settlement agreement, Asplundh will pay an additional $15 million to satisfy civil claims arising out of their failure to comply with immigration law, bringing the total cost of this illegal scheme to $95 million.

    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.
  2. Effects of Temination of DACA on Employers

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    Since President Trump’s announcement rescinding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), media focus has been on the 800,000 DACA recipients – as it rightfully should be. However, there is going to be another entity impacted - employers of those 800,000 DACA recipients.

    Not only do employers need to be concerned about the loss of valuable employees, but employers need to be concerned with staying in compliance of immigration laws. It is fundamental immigration law that employees cannot legally work without proof of their identity and work authorization. Thus, when DACA recipients’ Employment Authorization Card (EAD) expire, employers will need to discharge DACA recipients, unless they have found another way to obtain work authorization (which is very unlikely).

    But before employers start discharging employees, one needs to be careful not to do so prematurely. During the period of DACA’s work authorization, even beyond March 5, 2018, when the USCIS will no longer approve DACA renewals, DACA employees can be authorized to legally work. It all depends on the EAD’s expiration date. Although no renewal EAD will be issued after March 5, 2018, this doesn’t mean all DACA recipients are not eligible to work after March 5, 2018.

    As an example, DACA employee Jose has an EAD which expires on March 4, 2018, so he can renew his DACA status and EAD (if the renewal is filed by October 5, 2017). Thus, he will be eligible to work until about March 2020. On the other hand, another employee, Mohammed, has an EAD pursuant to DACA, which expires on March 6, 2018. Unfortunately, March 6, 2018 is the date his employment must terminate. Thus, employers must be observant of the EAD’s expiration date.

    How does an employer even know whether the EAD is through DACA, TPS, or withholding of removal? There is a code on the front of the EAD card. For DACA, the code is C33. This code is different than codes for TPS or withholding - A10, A12 or C19.

    Some employers may ask why can’t I just discharge DACA recipients now. First, they are probably very good employees – as so many of them are proud to be legally working for the first time in their lives. Second, hopefully Congress is going to pass the DREAM Act or some other legislation that will provide for lawful employment for DACA recipients; thus, employers won’t have to face the issue. However, if an employer chose to discharge a DACA recipient based on his DACA status, it is very unlikely that the discharge would be unlawful under the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Some small employers may be thinking I’m just going to look the other way and not terminate DACA recipients when their work authorization expires. Although I can understand employers not wanting to hurt their DACA employees, employers need to consider their own situation. If an employer continues to employ a worker after his work authorization expires, is not renewed, and no other work authorization is provided, they are subject to “knowingly” employing an undocumented worker. The fines for such a first offense range from $539 to over $4000, with a fine of over $3,000 being the most likely. If you have five DACA employees that you retain without work authorization, you are looking at a fine of $15,000 before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has even looked at your Form I-9s for substantive violations. So, your heart may tell you to keep DACA recipients without work authorization; but, listen to your head, which is filled with dollar signs for fines and penalties.

    For the answers to many other questions related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  3. OSC & ICE Publish Guidance to Employers on Internal I-9 audits

    By Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser
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    The Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have issued a six-page joint Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal Form I-9 Audits. In a later blog, I will discuss more of the specifics of the guidance.

    To ensure that these internal audits are conducted properly and do not discriminate against employees, ICE and OSC have collaborated to issue formal guidance on the topic. According to Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, “without clear and effective guidelines, internal audits can create barriers to employment for work-authorized individuals.”

    The joint guidance was developed by the two agencies with significant input from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and stakeholders around the country. This guidance is part of the six-month action plan of the Interagency Working Group for the Consistent Enforcement of Federal Labor, Employment and Immigration Laws.

    Among other things, the guidance provides employers with information regarding the scope and purpose of audits; considerations before conducting internal audits; details regarding how to correct errors, omissions or other deficiencies found on Forms I-9 and how to cure deficiencies related to E-Verify queries; and guidance regarding the anti-discrimination mandate.

    Updated 12-15-2015 at 10:41 AM by BBuchanan

  4. OSC Settles Dual Citizenship Discrimination Claim

    By Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

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    The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) reached a settlement with The Data Entry Company Inc. (TDEC), a government subcontractor located in Bethesda, Maryland. This case is unique because it involved a claim of discrimination based on dual citizenship.

    The OSC’s investigation found that on two occasions TDEC removed a U.S. citizen from its pool of applicants because she was a dual citizen, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, employers may not discriminate in hiring on the basis of citizenship status unless required by law, regulation, executive order or government contract.

    Under the settlement agreement, TDEC will pay $7,007.75 in back pay to the charging party and a $750 civil penalty to the United States. For the next two years, the company must also send all current human resources personnel and all new human resources personnel to attend a compliance training webinar presented by the OSC.

    TDEC further agreed not to remove dual citizen applicants from consideration for jobs that are open to other U.S. Citizens and for which a basic security clearance or higher level security clearance is required on the basis of their dual citizenship. This requirement will not apply if an applicable government contract prohibits employment of a dual U.S. Citizen, or if the company has received written notification from the government directly or indirectly stating that candidates with dual citizenship are not acceptable.

    A copy of The Data Entry Company Inc. settlement agreement can be viewed here.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Buchanan is an attorney with the law firm of Siskind Susser P.C. - www.visalaw.com - a full service U.S. immigration law firm representing employers and individuals nationwide for over 20 years. You can also follow Bruce on social media via Facebook and on Twitter @BuchananVisaLaw .
  5. USCIS myE-Verify Now Available Nationwide

    By Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser



    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the expansion of myE-Verify services nationwide. After a limited roll-out in 2014, it now serves as a “one-stop shop” for employees nationwide to open and manage a personal account.

    To create an account, the user must also complete a Self Check with a result of "Work Authorization Confirmed."


    If the user is unable to complete Self Check, they cannot set up a myE-Verify account at this time.

    myE-Verify is meant to be a free and secure way for workers to participate in the E-Verify process by accessing features dedicated for employees. It is equipped with these services:

    1. myE-Verify accounts – a free personal account to manage use of one’s information in E-Verify and Self Check;

    2. Self Lock – allows individuals to place a “lock” on their social security number (SSN) to help prevent unauthorized or fraudulent use of their SSN by another person to illegally obtain employment authorization within E-Verify. If their SSN is used, it will result in a Self Lock mismatch. Self Lock will remain active for 1 year and individuals can unlock their SSN any time a new employer needs to verify their employment eligibility in E-Verify; and

    3. myResources – a multimedia library for employees with these components: Employee Rights Toolkit, Your Rights with myE-Verify, Your Employer’s Responsibilities, and Privacy is Our Commitment.

    According to USCIS, the following features are planned for release at a later date:
    -Document Expiration Reminders, to set up alerts when a document (like a passport or driver’s license) is about to expire.
    -Case Tracker, to allow a user to track the status of their E-Verify or Self Check and know if any action is required.
    -Case History, to allow a user to monitor where and when their information has been used in the E-Verify system.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Buchanan is an attorney with the law firm of Siskind Susser P.C. - www.visalaw.com - a full service U.S. immigration law firm representing employers and individuals nationwide for over 20 years. You can also follow Bruce on social media via Facebook and on Twitter @BuchananVisaLaw .
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