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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. OSC Settles with City over Citizenship Status Discrimination; by Bruce Buchanan

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    The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, an agency within the Department of Justice, reached a settlement with the City of Waterloo, Iowa, on January 30, 2014, resolving allegations that the city violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    An investigation was initiated after a charge was filed by a work-authorized, lawful permanent resident (Charging Party) alleging that the City of Waterloo refused to consider him for a firefighter position because he was not a U.S. citizen. The investigation confirmed that the City of Waterloo improperly restricted firefighter positions to U.S. citizens despite the fact that no law, regulation, executive order or government contract authorized the city to legally restrict employment in such a manner under the INA.

    Under the settlement agreement, the City of Waterloo must provide the Charging Party with a new opportunity to apply for the firefighter position. If the results of the firefighter testing process show he would have been previously hired, the City must pay him back pay for the period of time he would have been hired in the absence of discrimination. If the test results show he would not have been hired at that time, but had a qualifying score, he must be placed in line to be hired at a later date if a firefighter position becomes available for which his score qualifies him. In addition, the city must pay $13,000 in civil penalties to the United States, make changes to its policies and practices to ensure unlawful citizenship requirements are not imposed, provide training to city officials, and be subject to monitoring by the department for one year.

    This settlement demonstrates the OSC is continuing the trend of 2013 in vigorously investigating charges of discrimination under the INA and assessing fines against employers that violate the INA.

    A copy of the settlement agreement is available here .

  2. Owners of Temp Agencies Arrested for Immigration Conspiracy; by Bruce Buchanan

    On January 30, 2014, federal agents arrested the owners of two employment agencies in Houston and charged them with recruiting and placing undocumented immigrants at restaurant jobs around the country, among other federal crimes. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years just on the immigration conspiracy charge.

    The raids on Hong Li Job Agency and the Tai Shan Employment Agency were part of a wider undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that led to the arrest of 30 other suspects including operators and managers connected with Chinese restaurants in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Maine, Texas and elsewhere who are believed to have knowingly employed and exploited undocumented workers.

    Hiring of unauthorized workers is a violation of section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which involves the failure of an employer to verify the employment eligibility of any person hired after November 6, 1986, by using the Form I-9.

    The workers, primarily from Mexico and Central America, were allegedly charged a fee of $300 to $480 for job placement which was deducted from their first month's pay. Once hired, they would work 12-hour shifts and 6 days per week at the restaurants, but were not paid overtime or allowed to keep their tips or gratuities. Workers were paid a set amount of $1,000 to $2,000 a month for putting in 72-hours of work per week. The restaurant operators paid less than the minimum wage, paid in cash to avoid employment taxes, and did not provide the workers with health insurance, vacation or sick time, ICE officials said.

    Copies of both indictments are available here and here .

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ID:	706 Restaurants specifically identified in the indictments are:

    China Cafe - Brownwood, TX;
    Asian City - Nacogdoches, TX;
    China Star - Bastrop, LA;
    Super Taste China Buffet - Port Allen, LA;
    New China Buffet and Grill - Abbeville, LA;
    Grand Buffet - Nederland, TX;
    King Buffet - Port Arthur, TX;
    Asian Garden - San Marcos, TX;
    Buffet City Asian Cuisine - Rockwall, TX;
    Weng's Buffet City Asian Cuisine - Rockwall, TX;
    Dragon Buffet and Sushi - Sanger, TX

    Updated 02-04-2014 at 05:38 PM by BBuchanan

  3. Over 500,000 Employers Now Using E-Verify; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

    The USCIS recently announced more than 500,000 employers now use its E-Verify program. The free tool allows employers, small businesses and large corporations alike, to confirm their new employees’ eligibility to work. This is a sharp increase in usage since the program began in 1996. Originally, just 11,474 companies in fiscal year 1996 signed up for E-Verify. That number jumped ten-fold to 111,671 companies in FY 2012.

    Why the increase?

    In FY 2013, employers’ use of E-Verify increased by almost 500%. Much of the increase can be attributed to improved accuracy since, according to USCIS, 98.8% of work-authorized employees are confirmed instantly or within 24 hours, requiring no further employee or employer action. Additionally, many states have passed their own E-Verify laws and federal contractors and subcontractors are often required to use E-Verify. A useful map of state by state E-Verify requirements is available here .

    It would also be hard to ignore the continued enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whereby certain companies have agreed to use E-Verify, conduct self-audits, and submit to an ICE audit as part of settlement agreements for violations or in acts of voluntary compliance under the “IMAGE” program.

    An immigration lawyer’s perspective

    From an immigration lawyer’s perspective, the increased use of E-Verify means employers are relieved of some of the burden of determining whether an employee’s I-9 Form documentation is authentic. Additionally, E-Verify can act as a safe harbor for employers in many instances.

    Businesses wishing to learn more about E-Verify should read USCIS’s Employer Manual located here .
  4. New and Revised MOUs for E-Verify by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser


    On December 8, 2013, the USCIS issued new and revised sets of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for E-Verify agreements. The MOU states the various terms and conditions of all parties involved: employers, agents, and the government.

    The most important points of the new and revised MOUs are:

    1. E-Verify enrollment process has not changed;
    2. Existing users will not need to execute a new MOU; rather they are bound by all changes to E-Verify, including the new or revised MOU that applies to their access method, effective January 8, 2014;
    3. There are revised MOUs for Employers, Employer Agents, and E-Verify Employer Agents;
    4. There are new MOUs for Web Services Employers, Web Services Employer Agents, and Employers using a Web Services E-Verify Employer Agent; and
    5. New users must execute their new or revised version of the MOU that applies to their access method during enrollment.

    According to USCIS, the changes were necessary because of the complexity of E-Verify, the danger of privacy breaches, pre-screening, and illegal discrimination. Furthermore, there are a variety of potential users of E-Verify, each of whom has different rules and requirements.

    The USCIS has also added language that an Employer agrees to contact DHS at 1-888-464-4218 or E-Verify@dhs.gov, immediately in the event of a breach of personally identifiable information.

    To access the MOUs visit: http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify/public...ns-memorandums
  5. Prosecutors Seek $16 million for Immigration Violations; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind

    An Ohio grand jury returned a 23-count indictment charging six people for their roles in a conspiracy to hire undocumented workers at a chain of restaurants in Ohio, called “Mariachi Locos” and “Mariachi Cocos” and pay them less than minimum wage. Prosecutors are also seeking for defendants to forfeit more than $16 million generated by the restaurants.

    According to the indictment, the defendants engaged in the practice of hiring undocumented workers who were illegally present in the United States and conspired to shield these workers from detection by paying them in cash, excluding them from payrolls, leasing housing for the workers, and aiding the workers in obtaining fraudulent work documentation.

    Prosecutors allege the defendants’ employment practices enabled them to enrich themselves because they paid the undocumented workers less than minimum wage, and did not pay the workers for overtime hours worked.

    The charges include harboring undocumented workers, conspiracy to harbor undocumented workers, aiding and abetting the harboring of undocumented workers, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Two defendants are also charged with making false statements to federal law enforcement officers.

    This indictment is just one more example of the high cost of committing employment-related immigration violations, especially when it involves harboring undocumented workers.
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