As my readers know, my legal practice covers advising organizations on both compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Background screening and immigration.  In the end, both federal laws address employee onboarding issues related to work authorization and background checks.

In addition to writing my (almost) weekly Compliance News Flashes, over the past few months I’ve written a series of bylines for different publications focusing on immigration-related worksite enforcement and how employers can protect themselves regarding their compliance with the employment eligibility verification requirements (i.e., the Form I-9). To facilitate compliance I thought it would be helpful to include these articles, as well as articles I’m quoted in along with a free webinar, in one blog posting with links.

Bylines:

  • The Record-Keeping Mistake You Could Be Making published in Construction Business Owner — “The Employment Eligibility Verification form—known as the Form I-9—is a deceptively difficult form for employers to complete, even though it is only two pages in length and its sole purpose is to document identity and work authorization. Proper completion of the Form I-9 is especially important in the industries with large workforces, given today’s environment. An employer’s good faith compliance with Form I-9 requirements can establish an affirmative defense to allegations of knowingly hiring unauthorized workers.”
  • Are Your Employment Practices Setting You Up for a Discrimination Claim? published in QSR Magazine — In an article published by QSR Magazine on April 18, 2017, Montserrat Miller helps leaders within the restaurant industry understand the employee onboarding process to avoid claims of unlawful discriminatory practices under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Are Your Employment Practices Setting You Up for a Discrimination Claim? published in FSR Magazine — In an article published by FSR Magazine on April 18, 2017, Montserrat Miller helps leaders within the restaurant industry understand the employee onboarding process to avoid claims of unlawful discriminatory practices under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Strategies to Maintaining a Legal Workforce as Concerns about Increased Worksite Enforcement Increase published in Georgia Contractor — see pages 30 and 31.

Quoted in:

Get Ready for More Immigration Audits,” Human Resource Executive Daily

In an article published by Human Resource Executive Daily on June 5, 2017, Montserrat Miller discusses immigration enforcement in the United States and how employers should prepare. “Make sure people on the front lines, such as receptionists, know what to do when an agent arrives. They also should know what documentation ICE agents are required to present when they arrive, and whom to summon for help, including HR leaders and legal counsel,” said Miller.

Immigration Enforcement Efforts Expected to Increase,” Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

In an article published by SHRM on May 18, 2017, Montserrat Miller is featured prominently in an article discussing how immigration enforcement related to the workplace–raids, audits and site visits–are likely to increase under the Trump administration and how audits will focus on visa fraud, not just Form I-9 violations.

Webinars:

In June I did a webinar for the Georgia Restaurant Association entitled Workplace Investigations by the Department of Homeland Security – Is Your Restaurant Ready?  — this free webinar is of general applicability and I encourage everyone to take advantage of free legal advice.

Compliance News Flashes:

If you’re interested in receiving the Compliance News Flashes (latest edition) please email me at montserrat.miller@agg.com. This newsletter provides quick blurbs on compliance issues related to background screening and immigration.

On February 28 at 3:00 pm EST, I (check out my bio) will be speaking on a free webinar hosted by Hire Image called, Hiring and Maintaining a Legal Workforce: What’s New in 2017.

I will be talking about what’s new in 2017 relative to hiring and maintaining a legal workforce. I will cover immigration compliance-related topics such as the President’s Executive Orders—and proposed orders—and the impact they could have on American employers and your workforce.  I will also talk about mandatory E-Verify, increased raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), increased civil penalties for noncompliance with the Form I-9 requirements, and what to expect and how to prepare your organization for an ICE worksite enforcement operation.

This webinar is approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hour toward California, GPHR, HRBP, HRMP, PHR and SPHR through HRCI, and is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM.

Click here to register.

I’m a speaker at the upcoming Federal Bar Association Chicago Chapter’s 7th Annual Workplace Enforcement and Immigration Program.  If you are in Chicago please join us. View the agenda and register by clicking here.

Conference Title — What You Should Know about Workplace Enforcement and Immigration

Date — October 16, 2012 (8:30 am – 5:00 pm)

This is a great conference if you want to learn more about corporate immigration compliance, employer self-audits of forms I-9, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and worksite enforcement, E-Verify, best practices, immigration due diligence during mergers and acquisitions (M&A), how to deal with remote hires and the form I-9, etc., etc., etc. 

My panel is on Counseling Corporate Compliance in Today’s Climate — how to deal with constructive knowledge situations, issues arising from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, best practices and the Office of Special Counsel, due diligence in M&A situations and immigration issues related to publicly traded companies.  I’m joined by some fantastic and very knowledgeable speakers and I’m sure it’ll be an all around good experience for all!

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano testified recently before the House Judiciary Committee regarding DHS’ efforts with respect to the enforcement and administration of our nation’s immigration laws.  Secretary Napolitano testified about criminal aliens, prosecutorial discretion, detention reform, enforcement along the borders, comprehensive immigration reform and of course, worksite enforcement, which in her written testimony has the header — “Deterring Employment of Aliens Not Authorized to Work”.

Highlights of Secretary Napolitano’s testimony regarding worksite enforcement:

  • DHS has eliminated high-profile raids of employers regarding their compliance with forms I-9.
  • DHS is instead promoting compliance with worksite-related laws through criminal prosecutions of egregious employer violators, form I-9 inspections, civil fines, and debarment, as well as education and compliance tools.
  • Since January 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has audited more than 8,079 employers suspected of knowingly hiring workers unauthorized to work in the United States, debarred 726 companies and individuals, and imposed more than $87.9 million in financial sanctions.
  • Employer enrollment in E-Verify, the electronic employment eligibility verification program managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has more than doubled since January 2009, with more than 385,000 participating companies representing more than 1.1 million hiring sites.
  • More than 17 million queries were processed in E-Verify in Fiscal Year 2011, allowing businesses to verify the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to issue Notices of Inspection (NOI) to employers at a stunning rate!  It appears that they have already surpassed the number of NOIs issued all of last year in the first half of 2012 and in the past two months they’ve issued approximately 3,000 NOIs.  What’s a NOI?  That’s when you, employer, receive a notice from the federal government requesting your Employment Eligibility Verification forms (forms I-9) within three days so that they can be “inspected” for accuracy and completeness and also to determine whether you are employing individuals who you shouldn’t be employing.  For an overview of the form I-9 inspection process you can read more at ICE’s website, or, for those of you who prefer visual cues, page 7 of this Fact Sheet.

So, how bad can it get?  Consider that ABC Professional Tree Services Inc. (ABC), a Houston based company providing right of way vegetation management  and emergency restoration services for electric utilities, agreed to pay $2 million as forfeited funds to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) related to revenue derived from the employment of unauthorized workers.  Yes, you are reading that correctly, they fined them for revenue gained through their employment of unauthorized workers!   According to an ICE News Release, they began investigating ABC based on complaints that a portion of their employees were not work authorized.  Thereafter, ICE conducted traffic stops on ABC crews, detaining employees who were determined to be unlawfully present in the United States.  I’m not making this up, it’s all in the News Release.  When ICE agents reviewed the forms I-9 of approximately 2,500 employees, it appears a good number presented fraudulent documents.   Out came the federal search warrants and on site arrests of undocumented workers.  The government’s investigation revealed that ABC had, according to the News Release, “for years, ignored federal law by falsely attesting on I-9s that work authorization documents presented by new hires appeared genuine.  In addition, for several years, ABC had received notices from the Social Security Administration (SSA) known as ‘no-match letters,’ and similar information from the company’s payroll processor, both of which indicated employee names and Social Security numbers did not match SSA records.”  When ABC failed to take corrective measures, resulting in the continued employment of the undocumented aliens, the government estimated that they derived at least $2 million in revenue from the provision of services to electrical utilities with their workforce consisting of, in part, undocumented workers.

So, in the end, ABC paid a lot of money, terminated the employment of workers and had to deal with negative media attention.  All of which highlights the importance of a strong compliance program and appropriate processes and procedures in place to ensure compliance with federal immigration laws in the hiring process.

 Happy 4th of July!