the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
agency notified 1,000 employers that their personnel records will be audited by
federal investigators to determine their compliance with employment eligibility
ICE did not release the identities of the target employers, but
as reported by The Wall Street Journal, they include entities of all sizes,
located in every state in the country. Business advocacy groups, such as the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have expressed concerns that the increased audits
impose a huge burden on employers including lost productivity and legal
The Immigration Control and Reform Act (IRCA) mandates
procedures for employers to verify the employment eligibility of their
workforce. Failure to comply with IRCA can lead to substantial civil penalties
and, in some cases, criminal charges.
The Obama Administration has made enforcement of IRCA a
priority. This year alone, the federal government has initiated 2,338 employer
audits, up dramatically from past years, made more than 150 criminal arrests, and levied more than $7 million in fines on employers.
ICA audits happen suddenly and swiftly. Employers
generally must produce their I-9 records and related personnel information
within three days of a notice of inspection. Employers can reduce their
liability by ensuring their own compliance with IRCA, including self-audits,
before receiving a notification from the government.