U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched a new audit initiative by notifying 652 employers across the country that the agency will be investigating their hiring records.
The notices alert business owners that ICE will be inspecting their hiring records to determine whether they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations. The agency says the new initiative illustrates its increased focus on holding employers accountable for their hiring practices and efforts to ensure a legal workforce.
"ICE is committed to establishing a meaningful I-9 inspection program to promote compliance with the law. This nationwide effort is a first step in ICE's long-term strategy to address and deter illegal employment," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton.
Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States . This form requires employers to review and record the individual's identity document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual.
The agency says the 652 businesses that received a Notices of Inspection for a Form I-9 audit have been selected as a result of leads and information obtained through other investigative means. The agency says that because of the ongoing, law enforcement sensitive nature of the audits, the names and locations of the businesses weren't released.
In 2008, ICE issued 503 similar notices throughout the year. In April, ICE implemented a new strategy to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce. Under this strategy, ICE is focusing its resources on the auditing and investigation of employers suspected of cultivating illegal workplaces by knowingly employing illegal workers. The nationwide initiative launched this month is a direct result of this new strategy, the agency says.