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DHS takes aim at employers of illegal workers

Employers who knowingly employ illegal workers are at risk of criminal prosecution. According to an e-newsletter illegalworkersdistributed by the law firm of McGuireWoods, which has a local office in Jacksonville, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is refocusing its worksite enforcement program, conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), from unauthorized workers to the criminal prosecution of those who hire illegals as a way to target the root cause of illegal immigration.

DHS issued updated worksite enforcement guidance to ICE agents to implement this new strategy.

DHS’s announcement explained:

• ICE officers will obtain indictments, criminal arrest, or search warrants, or a commitment from a U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) to prosecute the targeted employer before arresting employees for civil immigration violations at a worksite.

• ICE will look for evidence of the mistreatment of workers, along with evidence of trafficking, smuggling, harboring, visa fraud, identification document fraud, money laundering, and other such criminal conduct.

Enforcement of immigration law has been a high priority for the federal government in recent years. In 2008, a majority of all federal prosecutions (51%) were immigration cases. However, only 135 of the 6,000 arrests relating to worksite enforcement were of employers. It is anticipated that the shift in strategy will result in a significant increase of criminal arrests and prosecutions of business owners, managers, and supervisors.

McGuireWoods says to guard against possible ICE investigations or other enforcement actions, employers should establish programs to ensure compliance with all immigration laws, including implementing practices and procedures for the full and proper completion and maintenance of I-9 forms.

Source: McGuireWoods, www.mcguirewoods.com

 


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