In a well written piece from this summer, Julia Preston with the New York Times discussed ICE’s new strategy of conducting “silent raids.” The raids involve audits of employer records by federal agents and typically result in the firing of undocumented workers, but not deportation. However, the “silent raids” preferred by the Obama administration pose just as many dangers to employers as the not so silent raids of the Bush administration, and have led to record civil fines against employers this year.
Additionally, another round of notices of inspection (NOIs) is underway. Late last week, ICE confirmed to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that it was serving more than 500 NOIs to companies throughout the U.S. that week. The mistake some employers make is to treat an NOI as an administrative request. In fact, many employers continue to refer to NOIs as Form I-9 audits or inspections. But ICE is using NOIs as part of broader investigations and employers should treat them accordingly. NOIs often flow from leads about employers allegedly engaged in hiring unauthorized workers.
Because NOIs signal investigations, rather than running an NOI through the standard response channels for administrative requests, employers should consult with counsel immediately in order to
- ensure the appropriate compliance program is in place;
- confirm an internal audit of the I-9 Forms has been conducted recently or is conducted prior to producing them; and
- determine whether producing all records requested by the NOI is required or in the employer’s best interest.
NOIs typically request documents in addition to I-9 Forms such as payroll reports, employee rosters and monthly wage statements. However, ICE can compel production, via an NOI, of only the I-9 Forms.