Federal and state immigration enforcement activities continue to rise. Over the past few weeks, we have seen the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiate 652 I-9 audits, affirm the regulation requiring certain federal contractors to use E-Verify, and conduct H-1B employer site visits. At the state level, South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has conducted 50-55 audits of businesses for compliance with the state’s law requiring, among other things, employers of 100 or more persons to verify the employment eligibility of new hires by using E-Verify or viewing approved state-issued drivers licenses (see the July 23, 2009 issue South Carolina eAuthority of the South Carolina eAuthority for more information).

Government enforcement has also included seeking to impose financial and criminal sanctions on employers and their representatives:

  • Houston doughnut maker Shipley Do-Nut Flour and Supply Co. was sentenced to pay a $250,000 criminal fine and to forfeit $1.3 million to federal immigration officials in connection with senior company officials pleading guilty to harboring, hiring and continuing to employ illegal immigrants;
  • A South Carolina district court returned grand jury indictments for knowingly hiring and employing unauthorized aliens against a human resource manager and complex manager of employer Columbia Farms; and
  • An Alabama construction company owner was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to forfeit $75,000 for harboring and employing unauthorized aliens. In addition, more than $10,000 and the property where she operated her business has already been forfeited to the government.

Ogletree Deakins has been reporting on government enforcement activities over the past several months and forecasted the increased enforcement some time ago. Prudent employers have already made efforts to conduct self-audits and review and improve immigration compliance procedures. In light of the seeming onslaught of enforcement initiatives and the potential penalties faced, employers are urged to initiate and/or continue these efforts going forward.

Note: This article was published in the August 2009 issue of the Immigration eAuthority.


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Ogletree Deakins has one of the largest business immigration practices in the United States and provides a wide range of legal services for employers seeking temporary business visas and permanent residence on behalf of foreign national employees.

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