Immigration enforcement: what does it mean for business owners? Email
Tuesday, March 07, 2017 04:00 AM

ICE officerImmigration issues continue to dominate the news cycle in the United States, and enforcement of immigration laws appears to be a focus for the current presidential administration. Employers may be concerned about how this renewed enforcement effort might affect their business.

Conduct a self-audit
With increased enforcement, there is the possibility of more I-9 audits and ICE raids. Employers should have their paperwork (I-9 forms, E-verify, H-2B workers) in order in case of an audit or raid. Begin by conducting a self-audit of your employment records. Make sure all dates are correct and necessary information is on file. There are expectations that auditors may scrutinize paperwork more closely than in the past.

Cross your Ts and dot your Is
Remember that there is an updated I-9 form (dated 11/14/2016). Employers are required to use this new form only as of January 22, 2017. Don’t fail an audit with an easily corrected mistake like using the old form. Be sure that all dates are correct, signatures are in place wherever required, etc.

Get to know E-verify
There are rumors that E-verify may become a mandatory program. Become familiar with the free, online tool.

Train a staff member to handle enforcement issues
Have a plan in place if an auditor or ICE agents show up at your worksite. Designate a staff member to be the contact for labor issues, and be sure that staff members understand the laws and your rights as an employer under those laws. Train them to handle situations and make sure they know what you are required to furnish by law and what cannot be asked of them by enforcement officials.

Get a lawyer
It is recommended that you have a relationship with a lawyer whom you can call in the event of an audit or raid. The staff point person should know to contact that lawyer immediately if enforcement visits the worksite. That legal counsel should participate in your self-audit as well.

Have a backup plan
Make sure all staff are aware of what to say if a government official visits your workplace. Train a second person to handle the situation if your designated staff liaison is off-site at the time of the visit. And cross-train employees in case an employee is detained or arrested.

By following the laws and regulations and keeping good records, you can avoid a bad situation. An audit will still be inconvenient, but the better prepared you can be, the more quickly you can get back to business as usual.

This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be taken as such. To be sure that your business is in compliance with current employment laws, it is always recommended that you consult with a lawyer specializing in employment and related issues.

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