Illegal immigration and employment is becoming an extremely scrutinized area of law. Recently, twelve Connecticut companies were fined a total of more than $130,000 for allegedly hiring on illegal immigrants.

It is asserted by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations that these companies were hiring on undocumented workers without adequately inspecting employees I-9 forms. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials thus came down very hard on these businesses and assert that compliance with these I-9 audits is “not optional.”

These requirements create various dilemmas for employers. Employees often use stolen Social Security numbers when applying for jobs. Also, the employers pay a share of Social Security taxes for these employees, but employers are not always reimbursed for these taxes should it later be proved that the employees were illegal immigrants.

ICE officials appear to have recently changed their policy when it comes to illegal immigrants in places of employment. Though only one audit had been conducted in Connecticut since 2009, this past year ICE has conducted 14 separate audits with only one company fined. And during the current fiscal year, 18 audits have taken place with 12 companies being fined.

During the previous Presidential administration, the focus had been on deporting the illegal immigrants. The focus now appears to be on going after employers that supposedly hired on these immigrants as employees.

What this means is that employers will need a great deal more advice and counsel from attorneys that understand the hiring of employees from the perspective of the employer. These attorneys can assist as far as compliance with the law, concerning negotiations with federal officials, and in representation of employers should a business be accused of not being in compliance with federal laws.

Source: Yale Daily News, “ICE fines state businesses for workers,” by Christopher Peak, Nov. 16, 2012