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Feds conduct immigration audits on 1,000 businesses

Earlier this month, the federal government kicked off another round of "silent raids" in effort to expose businesses that have illegally hired undocumented immigrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly sent notices to about 1,000 businesses, requesting documents for the audits.

Even though the Obama Administration has been a promoter of immigration reform, the latest round of audits make it clear that the administration is not willing to ignore companies that hire workers who are in the country illegally. Included among the businesses being audited are restaurants, food processing plants, high-tech manufacturing companies and agriculture producers.

One important aspect to point out about the audits is that they will not result in deportation and removal proceedings against undocumented workers. However, the workers will lose their jobs. Employers, on the other hand, can face both civil and criminal fines and also often experience serious cuts in productivity.

The last "silent raid" of this size to take place was in July 2009, when close to the same number of businesses were audited. Over the past four years, roughly 10,000 businesses were audited and more than $100 million in fines were assessed as a result.

Even if there are no undocumented workers found at a business, companies can still be fined for paperwork errors, according to an immigration attorney interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. Another immigration attorney said that the audits have become "deeper in scope and more intense."

She explained that in the past, ICE requested only basic paperwork, but now the audits require documents such as names of managers, weekly work schedules, contacts for temporary staffing agencies and articles of incorporation. The attorney said that it ICE appears to "start with the presumption" that the employer is breaking the law.

As you can see, it is more important than ever for businesses to ensure that they are following immigration laws. Because the laws can be confusing and complicated, many companies find the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney to be invaluable.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Begins New Crackdown on Hiring Illegal Workers,” Miriam Jordan and Julie Jargon, September 12, 2013

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