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ICE Audits on the Rise

Published Thursday, January 31, 2019
by Gail Cecchettini Whaley, Esq.

ICE agentsWorksite immigration enforcement rose drastically in the fiscal year 2018 compared to the previous year, following a commitment made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in late 2017 to step up its worksite enforcement efforts across the country.

All worksite enforcement categories surged by 300 to 750% over the previous fiscal year. Here are some surprising numbers:

• 6,848 worksite investigations in 2018 compared to 1,691 in 2017
• 5,981 I-9 audits in 2018 compared to 1,360 in 2017
• 779 criminal arrests compared to 139 in 2017 (including arrests and indictments of managers)
• 1,525 administrative worksite-related arrests compared to 172 in 2017

“Employers who use an illegal workforce as part of their business model put businesses that do follow the law at a competitive disadvantage,” said Homeland Security Investigations Executive Director Derek N. Benner. “HSI is committed to upholding the laws that govern worksite enforcement.”

ICE’s worksite enforcement strategy continues to focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and hefty civil fines to encourage compliance with the law.

Federal law requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of all individuals they hire and to document that information using the Form I-9.

California Employers Pay Close Attention

California employers need to pay particular attention when it comes to worksite immigration enforcement.

Under a law that became effective in 2018, employers must follow specific requirements related to Form I-9 inspections. For example, within 72 hours of receiving a Notice of Inspection from a federal immigration agency, California employers must post a notice to all current employees informing them of any federal immigration agency’s inspections of Forms I-9 or other employment records. Download the Notice of Inspection.

Employers also have obligations once the inspection is over. Within 72 hours of receiving the inspection results, employers must provide each “affected employee” a copy of the results and a written notice of the employer’s and employee’s obligations arising from the inspection. An “affected employee” is one identified by the inspection results as potentially lacking work authorization or having document deficiencies.

CEA Can Help!

Make sure you meet your Form I-9 compliance obligations…audit your I9s! We can provide you with an on-site audit by one of our HR Advisors to ensure your I9 forms are compliant with federal law and even help you to fix form deficiencies. Please let us know when you would like to schedule an I-9 Audit by calling 1-800-399-5331 or email at CEAINFO@employers.org and we will get you an on-site visit scheduled!


• Review the Immigration Inspection Deficiency Notice on our HR Forms page under Personnel Records, so you are aware of it in the event you may need it.
• Check out our I-9 Audit Tools under CEA Tools on the HR Forms page.
• Let CEA Handle It. Call or email us if you have any HR compliance questions or require training or any other assistance.


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