In accordance with the Obama administration’s apparent preference, the Federal government through the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement is targeting illegal hires. The Wall Street Journal reported February 17 that ICE is expanding government audits to target employers hiring illegals.
Sources close to the Department of Homeland Security report that ICE is requiring 1000 employers to turn over their employee records. The indication is prospects for audit will be notified in the next few days.
The purpose of the audit is to examine the government form I-9 which requests employee identity and right to employment in the U.S. and is supported by two forms of identification such as social security card, driver’s license, or military service records.
These audits are termed “silent raids” and are the current preference to workforce raids to snag illegals. Both Democrats and Republicans are said to prefer these audits to provide proof of action to curb illegal hiring. This is in lieu of a failure to address the problems of illegal immigration with new legislation.
Denver based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., was targeted in Minnesota last year according to reports in both the Wall Street Journal and The Denver Post earlier this month. The restaurant chain was forced to lay off hundreds of illegal workers. ICE has advised the company will be audited in Virginia and Washington, D.C. where they operate about 60 restaurants.
The ICE audits have resulted in thousands of illegal workers being caught not only in the restaurant businesses, but in retail clothing stores, apple growers in Washington and other food producers. This will probably result in an increase in the use of the Federal E-Verify system.
California, Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Georgia and Florida are states that now have 10,000 or more employers participating in the E-Verify program. The proficiency of this government run electronic database program has been less than stellar, although now claims greater accuracy. Currently only federal contractors are required to use it.
This accounts for 11% usage of the 7.7 million employers in the U.S. There is a push now among supporters of the system to expand the program on the federal and state level. It is reasonable to believe that innocent employees, with no opportunity to defend themselves are dismissed along with the violators of the system.
The Service Employers International Union, whose members are about 25% immigrants, is critical of the silent raids, stating this does not keep good people employed or help the economy. The SEIU supports amnesty for illegal workers according to a senior staffer, Ben Monterroso.
Companies can be charged with civil and criminal prosecutions if caught violating the hiring procedures. It is a difficult call, however, as prospective employees file false or stolen documents to support their employment-eligibility I-9 forms. Discovery of improper documents will result in immediate dismissal, to the detriment of both employee and employer.