On January 19, 2012, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced a Dayton-area restaurant was fined more than $20,000 for failing to comply with Form I-9 employment eligibility verification requirements.
After receiving information from the Germantown Police Department regarding the alleged employment of illegal aliens, ICE HIS conducted an I-9 inspection of El Rancho Grande restaurant.
The Form I-9 audit revealed violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and severe deficiencies with the restaurant’s employment records. El Rancho Grande reached a fine settlement with ICE HSI in December of 2011 for $21,692.
In addition to the monetary settlement, El Rancho Grande will take measures to revise its immigration compliance program and has agreed to implement procedures to prevent future violations of federal immigration laws.
According to Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Ohio and Michigan:
“These settlements serve as a reminder to employers that HSI will continue to hold them accountable for hiring and maintaining a legal and compliant workforce. We encourage companies to take the employment verification process seriously.”
Employing Illegal Aliens – Criminal Investigations
On a another note, the owner and three managers of 3 Mississippi restaurants are facing federal charges related to conspiracy to knowingly employing illegal aliens and to harboring them from authorities. This was the result of an investigation by ICE HSI.
Criminal investigations are one of the tools HSI is using to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect job opportunities for the country’s legal workforce. Additionally, the government’s enforcement strategy includes the expanded use of civil penalties, employer audits and debarment.
In FY 2011, HSI initiated audits involving 2,496 employers nationwide – surpassing the record number of audits conducted in FY 2010. During that same time frame, HSI issued 385 employer final fine notices totaling more than $10 million, again surpassing the fine total for FY 2010.
Form I-9 Audit Focus
Form I-9 compliance is part of the ICE HIS workforce enforcement strategy. The goal is to reduce the demand for illegal employees and to protect employment opportunities for US employees who are legally qualified to work.
Are you 100% certain your Form I-9s are correctly and completely filled out? Do you have the correct accompanying documentation? Don’t wait for ICE to knock on your door. Be proactive and conduct an internal I-9 audit…or consider an independent 3rd party I-9 audit.