Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that ICE is actively targeting employers and companies in California. Now is the time to assure that your employee records are in compliance with federal law and California state law or you could possibly face severe fines and penalties.
The attorneys at Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP can provide group training and perform your company’s self-audits to assure compliance with federal law. Our attorneys can also advise you on California’s AB 450 to assure that you are not violating state law while replying to notice of inspections from ICE.
The following excerpt is from an ICE News Release on 2/16/18:
LOS ANGELES – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation officers and special agents arrested 212 individuals for violating federal immigration laws and served 122 notices of inspection (NOIs) to businesses in the Los Angeles area.
A notice of inspection alerts business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the law. If the businesses are found to not be in compliance with the law, they will face civil fines and potential criminal prosecution. Any potential criminal charges or other penalties will be coordinated with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals they hire, and to document that information using the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. A notice of inspection alerts business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the law. Employers are required to produce their company’s I-9s within three business days, after which ICE will conduct an inspection for compliance. If employers are not in compliance with the law, an I-9 inspection of their business will likely result in civil fines and could lay the groundwork for criminal prosecution, if they are knowingly violating the law.
California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450)
In October 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) into law, which requires (among other things) that employers notify their employee workforce of any government Form I-9 inspections within 72 hours or face potential penalties and fines. The template posting notice is described in some detail below, and can be downloaded here in English or here in Spanish.
This new law puts California employers in a tough situation, as they are now required to comply with California law, and provide notice on any Form I-9 inspections or audit performed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). California employers face harsh penalties for failure to provide this notice. Numerous other requirements in the Immigrant Worker Protection Act impact California employers. They are designed to protect an estimated three million plus undocumented California employees, including new regulations relating to Form I-9 inspection practices, and policies for access to an employer’s place of business, employment records, and reverification of work authorization for current employees.