Workplace Raids and the Immigration Fight

As most Human Resources professionals have already heard, the fight against illegal immigration has been taken to the workplace. The raids on multiple 7-11 stores last week is just the first sign of future potential round ups that could occur anywhere in the country. 98 locations were targeted from California to New York, and 21 people were arrested in conjunction with the raids.

Utah’s local KSL news reported: “A top official at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the audits were “the first of many” and “a harbinger of what’s to come” for employers. This is what we’re gearing up for this year and what you’re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters,” said Derek Benner, acting head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, which oversees cases against employers.”

There hasn’t been a flurry of on-site raids since the Bush presidency. The Obama administration took a different approach to illegal workplace immigration by auditing employers and their paperwork. Most employers aren’t familiar with ICE raids and are unsure on how to prepare themselves and their employees for such action. Employers are given three days to provide documentation in regards to their immigration status with their workforce after the initial raid. If they cannot provide that information, fines and deportation could be eminent.

Not only do employers get cited and fined, but word begins to spread to other employees. Undocumented workers begin to call their friends and family members to look for a safer place to work, employers loose their staff, and necessary work goes uncompleted. Fining employers and losing employees is the result of the issue at hand, but doesn’t help solve the bigger problem of illegal immigration in the workplace.

Regardless of your political affiliation, employers need to be prepared ahead of time for a potential raid or audit. Human Resource departments should have current I-9’s for all employees. The I-9 states: “I attest, under penalty of perjury, that (1) I have examined the document(s) presented by the above-named employee, (2) the above-listed document(s) appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee named, and (3) to the best of my knowledge the employee is authorized to work in the United States.” This attestation by the company appointed authorized representative is important for two reasons: they verify that they saw the documents presented (remember, you can’t ask for specific documents), and that these documents appear to match your employee.

There is no fool proof way to make sure this process is 100% accurate, but you should have staff that are trained in the I-9 process: reading and identifying proper documents, filling out I-9’s, foreign documentation, and how you can and can’t help the employee. Another helpful tool is E-verify. Or the best tool is hiring a PEO like Solution Services. Our trained HR professionals know how to properly fill out I-9’s, run everyone through E-verify, keep all documentation recorded and confidential, and prepare for an audit. Let us help your organization not only get up to date with this employment law, but with all your other human resource needs.