Jeremey Foster writes:

In a recent case, a Washington state apple orchard was fined millions of dollars for failing an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) audit. The audit apparently revealed that almost 950 employees of the company were suspected of not being authorized to work in the United States. The Employment Eligibility Verification forms (Form I-9s) of these employees contained inaccurate information regarding their employment eligibility, and the company continued to employ the unauthorized employees despite advisement by ICE of their ineligibility.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) requires all US employers to maintain original and accurate Form I-9s for all current employees with extremely limited exceptions. Failure to properly and timely complete and maintain I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms can result in a variety of penalties, with discretion given to ICE as to which is most appropriate. In this case, the orchard settled with ICE, resulting in a $2.25 million settlement in civil penalties.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a department of ICE, carries out I-9 audits in order to target employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers and to protect the interests and opportunities of the lawful workforce of the United States.

Jeremey Foster is a summer associate in Fox Rothschild’s Pittsburgh office.