In December 2008, outgoing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that increased worksite enforcement and other measures “turned the tide” against illegal immigration. While some may doubt the efficacy of the government’s efforts, the numbers bear out a general increase in enforcement efforts.

DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit made over 1,100 criminal arrests and more than 5,180 administrative arrests during worksite enforcement actions in 2008, an increase of 27 percent over 2007. In fact, ICE recently announced a record $20.6 million settlement of claims related to employing illegal alien workers by IFCO Systems North America of Houston, Texas. ICE regularly makes announcements of major worksite enforcement initiatives such as the IFCO settlement and arrests of business owners or managers who were pursued for criminal violations relating to the employment of unauthorized aliens on its website.

The undeniable increase in enforcement efforts suggests that prudent employers should review I-9 and overall immigration compliance policies and procedures. Among the steps employers might want to take in 2009 to shore up immigration compliance include: auditing I-9 records; monitoring pending federal regulations (federal contractor and Social Security No-Match); verifying state law compliance and monitoring developments; implementing a comprehensive I-9 policy; implementing a comprehensive Social Security No-Match policy; consider signing up for the DHS’ electronic employment verification system, E-Verify; and consider completing and storing I-9 records electronically.

Note: This article was published in the January 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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