What are your rights if the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids your business looking for an employee? Fast Company reports that, with about 11 million people currently living in the U.S. without documentation, the likelihood that an employer has an undocumented worker is probable, especially in certain industries — such as manufacturing, agriculture, hospitality and construction. So what should businesses do to prepare for an inspection?
The Reason for Form I-9
ICE uses Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification as a main enforcement tool. However, ICE cannot simply inspect a business's I-9 forms. Federal law requires three days' notice to employers of any ICE I-9 inspection. Notice is initiated by serving a Notice of Inspection and subpoena on the employer for all current and former employees' I-9 forms. Employers should perform their own internal audits to confirm that their records are in order prior to any ICE request.
What an ICE Inspection Could Look Like
ICE can come, unannounced, to your organization to conduct an inspection. If ICE comes without a warrant, and the business consents to the inspection, then ICE is permitted to come on premises and conduct a full investigation. If no warrant is presented, then the business can refuse the inspection.
No matter if the inspection is conducted or not, businesses should appoint certain staff to communicate with ICE in any situation. ICE can't talk to employees and can't be handed records without a subpoena or warrant. If ICE does have a warrant or subpoena, then they can obtain records, including I-9s, as no advanced notice is required.
As immigration is a top priority of the new administration, businesses should proactively approach their own immigration practices. Conduct internal audits to confirm that all I-9 forms have no deficiencies, that appropriate policies and procedures exist and that key people are handling ICE interactions. Approaching immigration issues proactively will enable businesses to have less disruption in a changing environment.
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