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U.S. Begins New Crackdown on Hiring Illegal Workers

Wall Street Journal (09/12/13) Miriam Jordan; Julie Jargon

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has notified 1,000 companies across the country that they must submit employment verification documents for audits. This is the largest audit since July 2009. The audits target restaurants, food processors, high-tech manufacturers, the agriculture sector, and other industries that cumulatively employ tens of thousands of workers.

The audits will not lead to deportation of illegal workers, but those workers will lose their jobs, which critics point out can drive immigrants to exploitative, off-the-books work. They can also cause lost productivity and result in large fines and the loss of employees to competitors. ICE typically requests Forms I-9, worker rosters, and payroll stubs, then issues notices of suspect documents to employers, which inform their workers they must either produce legal documentation or quit. More than 10,000 employers have been audited in the past four years. The audits have grown more intense, and ICE now requests not just basic paperwork but weekly work schedules, names of managers, lists of temporary staffing firms used, and the company’s articles of incorporation.