Thursday, December 3, 2020

Announcement of New ICE Audit Center Expected Later Today from Obama Administration

On Thursday, the Obama administration is set to announce the formation of the Employment Compliance Inspection Center, an audit office designed to supervise I-9 employee files and ensure workers are in the country legally.

In an interview conducted by the Wall Street Journal, John Morton, chief of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), proclaimed the new center will “address a need to conduct audits even of the largest employers with a very large number of employees.”

Though the Obama administration has made employers the focus of its immigration policy, opponents say the policy unfairly penalizes small companies who already have trouble attracting American workers and fail to take aim at larger businesses.

“Ultimately, it is in a company’s best financial interest to proactively comply with the law now rather than to face potential fines or criminal prosecution for noncompliance in the future,” a spokeswoman for ICE said.

But small companies say this will only hurt them, since American workers won’t take up the jobs vacated by immigrants after the “silent raids” even during tough economic times.  Asking some workers for additional documents whom they suspect are in the country illegally has also led to discrimination lawsuits that companies fear will hurt them.

According to Morton, the new audit center would have the “express purpose” of providing support to regional immigration offices carrying out larger audits. “We wouldn’t be limited by the size of a company,” he said.

Morton also shared that ICE is seeking to expand a program that would allow businesses to work with the federal government to make certain they are only employing persons authorized to work in the U.S. called IMAGE, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers.

The voluntary program started back in 2006 but only 115 companies have signed on to participate.  Under the program, companies receive trainings and best practices to assist them in avoiding hiring undocumented workers.

Slate

Wall Street Journal