Armanino Blog

Don't Get ICEd!

by Marina Brening
August 10, 2018

As the United States tightens security at its borders, employers are feeling the pinch. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) doubled its number of worksite inspections from 2016 to 2017 and is on track to exceed that in 2018. For 2019, the Trump administration's proposed budget calls for $570 million to hire 2,000 additional ICE officers, including $208 million for 300 additional worksite investigators, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The bottom line? Employers must understand the increased risk of hiring unauthorized workers. Even the best-intended companies are in danger if they do not comply with specific standards.

Employers verify employment via the required Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9, which first came about under Ronald Reagan in order to meet the employment verification requirement within the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. At the time, employers were knowingly hiring undocumented workers. As a result, border enforcement increased, and employers were prohibited from knowingly hiring unauthorized individuals. The I-9 form took the requirement a step further by requiring employers to verify the identity of all workers, both authorized and unauthorized.

Presently, if employment verifications fall out of compliance, companies can face civil or even criminal litigation. Failing an I-9 audit costs employers to the tune of $216 to $2,156 in penalties per worker, while civil penalties can range from $539 to $21,563, according to SHRM.  An audit consists of employers handing employee I-9s over to ICE officers; employers may have failed to properly verify the identifying documents and/or failed to properly complete and retain the form itself.

While some states have set specific guidelines around ICE entering the workplace, I-9 audits remain a routine part of doing business nationwide. Your company's best defense against such inspections is to:

  • Ensure the employee has filled out their portion completely and accurately.
  • Review authorized forms of photo identification. Review the IDs in person and cross-reference the employee's face with their photo ID. Be leery of provided documents that appear fake/unofficial. (See the I-9 instructions.)
  • Complete the employer portion of the form, completely and accurately, within 3 days of the employee's first day of work.

To learn more about I-9 compliance, see, download our I-9 guides, and contact your HR Solutions consultant. Our team of experts are here to help!

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Marina Brening, Consulting | Armanino
Senior Consultant
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