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ICE Increases Summertime Workplace Investigations

ICE Makes No Secret of Intent to Increase 2018 Workplace Investigations

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is continuing its stepped up focus on workplace investigations. The Associated Press reports that according to Derek Benner, head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, ICE is gearing up for increased workplace investigations during the upcoming summer months. With this summers increase ICE hopes to push current audit totals over the 5,000 mark by the end of its September 2018 fiscal year. According to fiscal year data published for 2016-2017, investigations for fiscal year 2017-2018 have already doubled last year’s totals with arrests seeing an almost fourfold increase. 

Since October 2017 over 2,000 work-site investigations have been opened – 1,000 more than were opened during the same period last year. In the Los Angeles area the number of criminal and non-criminal administrative arrests has steadily increased (October 2016 – September 2017) with total arrests for 2017 over 8,000.

ICE’s stated end goal is to conduct between 10,000 – 15,000 audits per year (subject to funding and administration support). It seeks to accomplish this goal by opening its proposed Employer Compliance Inspection Center – a centralized facility staffed with 250 auditors, updated technology and a cadre of enforcement attorneys.

With audit projections on the rise and increased fines for violators, employers attempting to get ahead of this new trend should consider performing self-audits of current employment verification processes and records maintenance. There are many things to consider before making the decision to perform a self-audit. Here are a few tips to think about before starting any internal audit process:

  • Perform the audit in keeping with sanctioning and anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Consider beforehand the purpose and scope of the audit and how information will be communicated to all employees.
  • Have a predetermined process in place for answering questions, documenting all employee communications, ensuring consistency and addressing deficiencies uncovered during the audit.
  • Consider the timing of the audit, scope, and selection criteria from a broad perspective to ensure the audit adheres to anti-discrimination and retaliation provisions of the INA as well as other state and federal laws.
  • Seek assistance on how to handle errors or omissions found during the audit process.

ICE administrative audit procedures often stem from investigations into other types of workplace violations or from outside agency tips. Employers should therefore not rule out companywide workplace audits as a means of remaining compliant with employment laws and regulations or identifying other areas that may need improvement.

For more information on audit procedures or assistance with a workplace audit contact SAFFIRE LEGAL, PC. [Attorney advertisement]

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