Employers should expect a tumultuous year ahead as the Trump administration continues its immigration crackdown, a lawyer from immigration law firm Berry, Appleman & Leiden (BAL) said in a recent webinar.
Increased immigration enforcement has been a key focus of the president as he aims to make good on his campaign pledge to protect jobs for American workers. While much of the emphasis has been on deporting illegal workers, employers are also increasingly in the crosshairs of immigration enforcement agencies.
"We’re seeing vigorous prosecution, and it’s clear that the administration is using worksite enforcement not only as a way to bring companies into compliance, but as a scare tactic," said Ruth Clark, a senior associate with BAL. "They want to make examples of companies, so it’s not just a quiet fine you’re going to pay. They want to make headlines and splash this across the news."
She cited a recent case in which a Philadelphia-based tree trimming company was hit with criminal penalties and ordered to pay a $95 million fine—the largest ever for a U.S. immigration case—for illegally hiring thousands of unauthorized workers. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the company decentralized its I-9 employment eligibility verification process so that its senior management could remain "willfully blind" as lower-level managers hired and rehired workers they knew weren’t allowed to work in the U.S.
Along with pledging to ramp up its enforcement activity in the coming year, the administration has also proposed to:
At the state level, California is bucking the administration by rolling out a pro-immigration law that will make it illegal for employers to allow enforcement agents to enter certain areas of the workplace without a judicial warrant. Under the new statute, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2018, employers also must notify each current employee, within 72 hours of receiving notice of an inspection, that an immigration agency will be inspecting the company’s I-9 forms.
As employers scramble to keep abreast of federal and state immigration laws, they are also finding themselves targets of scams. U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services recently issued a notice warning that employers have been receiving scam emails from firstname.lastname@example.org, a nonexistent email address made to appear as if it is from USCIS, asking employers to send copies of their I-9s.
Employers are reminded that they are not required to submit I-9 forms to USCIS, and that the agency would never make such a request via email. Employers that have received such an email can report either it to either https://lnkd.in/euiJdVb or email@example.com.
Changes in immigration policy have occurred at a dizzying pace during the first year of the Trump administration. Looking ahead to 2018, HR departments should brace themselves for another action-packed year, with more changes in the area of immigration that'll have an impact on employers.
International HR Decision Support Network provides immigration coverage, employment law primers for scores of countries, and various other resources that can help you stay compliant and develop policies for your global operations. Start your free trial today.
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