In 2005, ICE’s budget (pdf) was $3.56 billion. For 2010, it is $5.74 billion (pdf) — an increase of $2.18 billion! In a time when most most budgets are decreasing, ICE’s budget has increased by 60% in 5 years. That can only mean that immigration enforcement remains a priority for the federal government. Like it or not, this means immigration compliance should be a priority in the boardrooms and conference rooms all across corporate America.
Coupled with the dramatic increase in budget is the formal policy of the Obama administration to go after employers who hire illegal immigrants rather than the mass arrest of illegal immigrants. In a 2009 news release from DHS, the agency announced that Secretary Napolitano has “issued guidance outlining that ICE will focus its resources in the worksite enforcement program on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers in order to target the root cause of illegal immigration. ICE will continue to arrest and process for removal any illegal workers who are found in the course of these worksite enforcement actions in a manner consistent with immigration law and DHS priorities. Furthermore, ICE will use all available civil and administrative tools, including civil fines and debarment, to penalize and deter illegal employment.” ICE recently reprioritized and focused its resources in worksite enforcement “on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers in order to target the root cause of illegal immigration.”
The arrest numbers speak for themselves. With increased money comes increased enforcement. Since 2002, ICE has increased its annual criminal arrests by more than 1,000 and its annual administrative arrests by over 4,500. The figures for 2009 are not available yet, but will likely be telling. Based on enforcement strategies announced by ICE and the dedication of resources, the focus will likely be on increasing criminal arrest numbers.
If you haven’t focused on immigration compliance, now is certainly the time.