Lexology (02/23/12) Jared Leung
In January 2012, two U.S. employers settled charges by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of violations and hiring of unauthorized immigrants, for $2 million each. Criminal penalties in this field can be assessed—up to $3,000 or imprisonment for six months for each unauthorized immigrant. Civil penalties are divided into two categories: “paperwork” violations—generally innocent mistakes on the I-9 forms; and “hiring” violations—where the employer is suspected of knowing that the workers were without authorization and still hired them.
A paperwork violation carries a fine of $100 to $1,100 per incident, and that figure increases based on the percentage of incorrect forms. These are severe consequences for carelessness and inattention to the process, and even more severe consequences for deliberate disobedience. Employers should get their Forms I-9 in order by conducting a thorough audit. The only protection against the hiring of unauthorized workers is diligence with respect to verification of work authorization.