I-9 audits have replaced the immigration “raids” of years past as the modern day method to curtail the hiring of illegal and undocumented workers. Typically raids went after the worker and placed them in deportation proceedings, however, an I-9 audit targets the employer and can result in heavy fines and possible criminal penalties.
The frequency of I-9 audits have and will continue to increase. ICE has already issued more than $2.5 million in fines to employers across the nation this year for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, and nearly 48 employers have been arrested on criminal charges. ICE issued nearly $7 million in fines and arrested 196 employers in 2010. ICE feels punishing the employer is the most effective deterrent to illegal immigration and has plans to continue and expand I-9 audits for at least the next few years.
Any business that typically relies on a foreign born work force should be concerned, even minor violations can lead to penalties and C.E.O.’s and managers will be held responsible for the hiring decisions of their employees, so there is no defense in not knowing.