May 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In a recent aggressive action by ICE, a Washington state herb grower was fined $1 million and pleaded guilty to felony offenses with five years probation for knowingly hiring undocumented workers.
As is customary in these cases, ICE began with an audit of the company’s I-9 forms, which uncovered significant discrepancies. Of the 300 I-9 forms reviewed, more than 200 were suspect. In a plea agreement, HerbCo International, Inc. admitted to knowingly hiring undocumented workers in violation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Three company executives, including the vice president and general manager, were prosecuted and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of aiding and abetting in the employment of illegal workers. They were all sentenced to one year probation. As stated by ICE, “businesses that engage in this unlawful practice should take note of the significant penalties and take proactive steps to comply with the law.”
Last fiscal year, ICE filed criminal charges against a record-breaking total of 221 owners, employers, managers and/or supervisors for hiring undocumented workers and other employment-related immigration violations. These most recent prosecutions underscore this administration’s continuing policy to prosecute employers for immigration based employment offenses, rather than go after the foreigner him/herself. Enforcement remains a priority for this Administration.
It is critical for employers to ensure their I-9 forms are compliant with the law before an audit is requested. The most comprehensive and safe way of ensuring compliance is to conduct an independent I-9 audit of your company’s forms. Contact us today to discuss how we can assist you and your organization to verify employment eligibility for all your employees with a comprehensive Compliance Program. We are here to help!