Employers That Hire Illegal Immigrants Beware: ICE Plans to Increase Prosecutions

What are the penalties for hiring illegal immigrants?

Employers across the country need to be aware that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced its intention to increase the number of employers it prosecutes for hiring illegal immigrants.  Employees who are here illegally are also at risk. The acting ICE Director, Thomas Homan, has stated that workplace immigration enforcement efforts will rise to four to five times the current level.  Employers should take steps to protect themselves from potential ICE action by ensuring they comply with employment based immigration laws

I-9 Audits

To identify employers who are engaging in illegal hiring practices, ICE will conduct more I-9 audits.  With an I-9 form, the government can verify the identity of an employee and their employment authorization.  Evidence collected from I-9s and other sources can potentially lead to prosecution of employers who hire illegal workers and employees here unlawfully. 

Penalties for Employers Hiring Illegal Immigrants

Federal law prohibits employers from hiring, recruiting, or referring illegal immigrants for work.  There are criminal and civil penalties for hiring illegal immigrants.  It is further illegal for employers to not verify the work authorization of new employees.  Within three days after an employee is hired, an employer must fully complete an I-9 form. 

Employers that violate federal hiring laws could face the following penalties:

A fine of between $250 and $2,000 for first offenders, per illegal employee;
A fine of between $2,000 and $5,000 for second offenses, per illegal employee;
A fine of between $3,000 and $10,000 for three or more offenses, per illegal employee;
Up to six months in jail if the employer has demonstrated a pattern of knowingly employing illegal immigrants.
Additionally, employers that are believed to be harboring illegal immigrants or employers who hire ten or more illegal immigrants in a one year span could face several years in prison. 

Defenses Against a Charge of Hiring an Illegal Immigrant

Employers accused of violating hiring laws may have a viable defense if they can show they made a good faith effort to ensure their employees were legal and permitted to work.  A good faith effort could include checking the identification, social security numbers, and ensuring all identification is valid.  Employers wishing to hire employees from another country should consult with an immigration lawyer to ensure their compliance with the law. 

If you should have any questions or need more information about the way that the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at info@visaserve.com or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x107).  You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at www.visaserve.com.