The New Employment Compliance Inspection Center

28 Feb

President Obama signing ECIC into LawIt seems that, even for illegal immigrants, the job market has been on the decline. That may explain why illegal immigration to the U.S. has slowed sharply since 2007.

Illegal immigrants crossing into the country plunged to an estimated 300,000 annually from March 2007 to 2009, says the Wall Street Journal. In March 2000 through March 2005, the influx of illegal immigrants was approximately 850,000 per year.

As the economy improves, the government wants to keep those numbers declining. Lawmakers have started the Employment Compliance Inspection Center (ECIC) a unit of the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Immigration and Customs Chief John Morton has said that the new ECIC’s purpose is to assist regional audit centers with auditing large businesses.  The ICE would no longer be limited by company size.    It will also allow ICE to increase the number of audits conducted.   This reinforces how important it is to make sure employers conduct their own I-9 audits and that they are creating their own immigration compliance plans, policies and procedures.

Hiring undocumented workers can be appealing to unscrupulous owners and managers, as companies can pay them below minimum wage and skirt many employment laws, but the practice puts the integrity of the American worker at risk. This can be dangerous, particularly with the unemployment rate still above 9 percent.

Further, the following are the penalties or fines, per unauthorized employee, that an employer who hires or continues to employ aliens who do not have proper work authorization may face, from USCIS.gov:

1. First offense: not less than $250 and not more than $2,000 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the offense occurred before September 29, 1999, and not less than $275 and not exceeding $2,200 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the offense occurred on or after September 29, 1999; or

2. Second offense: not less than $2,000 and not more than $5,000 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the second offense occurred before September 29, 1999, and not less than $2,200 and not exceeding $5,500 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the second offense occurred on or after September 29, 1999; or

3. Subsequent offenses: not less than $3,000 and not more than $10,000 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the third or subsequent offense occurred before September 29, 1999, and not less than $3,300 and not exceeding $11,000 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the third or subsequent offense occurred on or after September 29, 1999.

The ECIC is a shift in placing blame. In previous illegal immigration employment stings, the immigrants themselves were targeted, but relatively few companies were prosecuted. But President Barack Obama’s inspection center will conduct what the administration has coined “silent raids” on employers both small and large.

Does your company have a stringent policy when checking employment eligibility?

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