Nyemaster Goode, P.C.

I-9 Audits Creating Burdens for Employers

By Neal Westin

Recent efforts by the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") to uncover undocumented workers in the U.S. have become quite troublesome for many employers unintentionally out of compliance with governmental standards.

In place of the large-scale high-profile raids that became the norm over the past several years, DHS has shifted its focus to "desktop raids" which require employers to turn over employee I-9 records for inspection. An I-9 form is the document completed at the commencement of all new employment to verify an individual's ability to work legally in the U.S.

An Associated Press analysis of 430 recent I-9 audits showed that about half of the audits were conducted at companies with fewer than 25 employees. More than 250 of the companies had no problems with their I-9 forms, but several companies with minor records discrepancies were fined. Abercrombie & Fitch was forced to pay a $1 million fine for mere recordkeeping I-9 problems at its Michigan stores even though an audit of its records found no instances of the store hiring unauthorized workers. However, the bulk of the $7 million in immigration fines assessed this past year (a 500 percent increase from 2009) has come from small companies.

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