In a word, Yes. Your business is definitely not immune to an i-9 audit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. In fact, your business size has absolutely nothing to do with how and why I.C.E would come knocking at your door. In a recent case, USA v. Snack Attack Deli, Inc., 10 OCAHO no. 1137, a Subway Franchisee was fined $111,078.00 by I.C.E. for i-9 violations. Here is the interesting part;none of the violations involved allegations of knowingly hiring or employing unauthorized aliens. The entire fine was based on Snack Attack’s alleged failure to comply with employment verification requirements by improperly completing or failing to complete Form I-9.
According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton, the agencies announced record-breaking immigration enforcement results that reflect the aggressive stance taken under the Obama Administration to combat the hiring of unauthorized workers. While the government continues to detain and remove unauthorized individuals, Secretary Napolitano emphasized that the Obama Administration also would continue to pressure employers, holding them accountable through I-9 audits, fines and debarment from immigration programs.
While ICE states that it conducts I-9 investigations of employers based on credible leads (such as complaints from disgruntled employees, tips from the public or cases having national security or public safety implications), they also reserve the right to initiate audits for other reasons, such as referrals from other government agencies that have investigated an employer in an unrelated matter or even randomly targeting industries generally known to have high reports of undocumented workers, such as in construction, hospitality, retail and food production.
So what should you do to minimize your risk of being audited? In reality, there are no safe guards available to you to prevent an i-9 audit. However, you can take measures to insure your i-9 process is sound and can uphold federal scrutiny. There are many companies, including Hire Well Now, that offer independent audit services and best practices processes to help you minimize your risk for potential fines. For more information on Hire Well Now Form i-9 management, please contact us directly.