ICE Planning Surge of I-9 Audits This Summer

May 29, 2018

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning a nationwide increase of Form I-9 audits this summer.

ICE has already opened more worksite investigations seven months into fiscal year (FY) 2018 than the agency completed in all of FY 2017. The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Enforcement investigations in FY 2018 have doubled last year's total, and arrests related to worksite enforcement have nearly quadrupled.

Since October 2017, ICE has opened 3,510 worksite investigations, initiated 2,282 I-9 audits, and made 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite-related arrests. That's up from 1,716 investigations, 1,360 I-9 audits, 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests the previous fiscal year.

The ICE Toolkit

ICE said it uses a three-pronged approach to worksite enforcement:

  • Compliance, via Form I-9 audits, civil fines and debarment from federal contracts.
  • Enforcement, through the criminal arrests of employers and administrative arrests of unauthorized workers.
  • Outreach, by participating in the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers program, in which ICE certifies organizations for complying with the law. As part of the program, ICE andU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provide education and training on proper hiring procedures, fraudulent document detection and use of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system.

Be Prepared for a New Normal

Soon, ICE intends to conduct up to 15,000 Form I-9 audits per year, to be completed by electronically scanning documents in a not-yet-created national inspection center.

Investigations most often start with a notice of inspection alerting employers that ICE is going to audit their employment records for compliance with existing law. Enforcement actions can begin from a law enforcement tip or from an investigation into another type of violation, such as labor standards violations, and could result in civil penalties and/or criminal charges for employers.