ICE Targets 1,000 Employers for Worker Verification Audits

November 19, 2009 ( – Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Thursday announced plans to audit 1,000 U.S. employers’ hiring records to check compliance with federal workplace eligibility laws.

An ICE news release said the businesses targeted for audit were identified via investigative leads and intelligence because of the employer’s connection to public safety and national security. The agency is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Assistant Secretary John Morton said in the announcement the government would not publicly identify the targeted companies receiving Notices of Inspection (NOIs).

Morton said the audits will involve a review of ICE Form I-9s, which employers are required to complete and retain for every person hired in the U.S.  The form requires employers to review and record each individual’s identity and work eligibility document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to that specific individual.

“ICE is focused on finding and penalizing employers who believe they can unfairly get ahead by cultivating illegal workplaces,” said Morton, in the news release. “We are increasing criminal and civil enforcement of immigration-related employment laws and imposing smart, tough employer sanctions to even the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”

The agency said protecting employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce and targeting employers who knowingly employ an illegal workforce are major ICE priorities, for which ICE employs all available civil and administrative tools, including audits. Audits may result in civil penalties and lay the groundwork for criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly violate the law, according to the announcement.

In July, ICE issued 654 NOIs to businesses nationwide in the largest operation of its kind before the one announced Thursday.

The ICE announcement is available here.