Ensuring each of its employees is legally authorized to work in the United States is one of many responsibilities facing every American business, from small start-up operations to our country’s largest and most prosperous corporations.
This strategy incorporates a 3 prong approach to conduct worksite enforcement: compliance, though I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment; enforcement, through the arrest of employers, knowingly employing undocumented workers, and the arrest of unauthorized workers for violation of laws associated with working without authorization; and outreach, through the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers program, to instill a culture of compliance and accountability.
The company pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a monetary forfeiture judgment in the amount of $80 million, the biggest judgment ever handed down in a worksite enforcement investigation. They are also required to abide by an administrative compliance agreement, as set forth by HSI Philadelphia, the local jurisdiction for the company’s headquarters.
An effective worksite enforcement strategy must address both employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, as well as the workers themselves. In worksite cases, ICE investigators adhere to high investigative standards, including the following: ICE will look for evidence of the mistreatment of workers, along with evidence of trafficking, smuggling, harboring, visa fraud, identification document fraud, money laundering and other such criminal conduct.
Worksite enforcement investigations often involve violations of other criminal statutes by employers and may also reveal widespread employee abuse. For example, many of the agency’s worksite investigations uncover instances of alien smuggling, alien harboring, document fraud, money laundering, or worker exploitation. HSI also investigates employers who use force, threats or coercion – such as threatening to have employees deported – to keep unauthorized alien workers from reporting substandard wages or unsafe working conditions.
Employers who are seeking assistance with ensuring their companies are compliant can seek Department of Homeland Security certification through the IMAGE program. Participants have pledged to maintain a secure and stable workforce, including outreach and education designed to prevent unlawful hiring practices.