Thursday, September 29, 2011

Federal Judge Allows Parts of Alabama Immigration Law

As predicted, the Alabama immigration law (HB56) is not dead.  After review, a federal judge has refused to block elements of the law.  According to FOX News:
A federal judge refused Wednesday to block key parts of a closely watched Alabama law that is considered the strictest state effort to clamp down on illegal immigration, including a measure requiring immigration status checks of public school students.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn, appointed by Republican President George H.W. Bush, wrote in her 115-page opinion that some parts of the law are in conflict with federal statutes, but others aren't.
She said federal law doesn't prohibit checking students or suspects pulled over by police. She also refused to stop provisions that allow police to hold suspected illegal immigrants without bond; bar state courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants; make it a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state; and make it a misdemeanor for an illegal resident not to have immigration papers.
An appeal is all but certain; the state attorney general's office said it was reviewing the decision before commenting.
An order the judge previously issued temporarily blocking the entire law expires Thursday, but it was unclear when the state might begin enforcing the sections of the law that Blackburn allow. Neither Gov. Robert Bentley nor Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had any immediate comment.
Blackburn's order temporarily blocked four parts of the law until she can issue a final ruling. Those measures would:
-- Make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to solicit work.
-- Make it a crime to transport or harbor an illegal immigrant.
-- Allow discrimination lawsuits against companies that dismiss legal workers while hiring illegal immigrants.
-- Forbid businesses from taking tax deductions for wages paid to workers who are in the country illegally.
Blackburn heard arguments from opponents including the Obama administration, immigrant-support groups and civil libertarians before it was supposed to take effect Sept. 1. The Justice Department contended the state law encroaches on the federal government's duty to enforce immigration law, and other opponents argued it violated basic rights to free speech and travel.
She put the entire law on hold last month, but didn't rule on whether it was constitutional, saying she needed more time.
Similar, less-restrictive laws have been passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia, and federal judges already have blocked all or parts of those.
Immigration became a hot issue in Alabama over the last decade as the state's Hispanic population grew by 145 percent to about 185,600. While the group still represents only about 4 percent of the population, some counties in north Alabama have large Spanish-speaking communities and schools where most of the students are Hispanic.
Alabama Republicans have long sought to clamp down on illegal immigration and passed the law earlier this year after gaining control of the Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. GOP Gov. Robert Bentley signed it, saying it was vital to protect jobs of legal residents.
Both supporters and critics say it is the nation's toughest partly because of a section that would require public schools to verify the citizenship status of students and report statistics to the state. Illegal immigrants wouldn't be barred attending public schools, but opponents contend the law is designed to decrease enrollment by creating a climate of fear.
We are Form I-9 Compliance, LLC believe that it is just a matter of time before E-Verify is mandatory for all employers in the U.S.  This is already part of The Whitehouse immigration plan for the 21st Century.
For more information on how to comply with federal immigration laws, Form I-9 Audits or E-Verify, contact us at 949-640-4949, or visit us at
Twitter:  @FormI9

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How a Dairy Farmer Survived a Silent Raid by ICE

According to agriculture and farm journal, AGWeb, a Arizona dairy farmer survived a Silent Raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement relatively unscathed (he only lost 10% of his workforce).  He did two things that helped save his farm.  The Reader's Digest version is that he had conducted a voluntary I-9 Audit using a 3rd party expert (like Form I-9 Compliance, LLC) to determine where he had problems and how to resolve them and he implemented the use of E-Verify to verify that all new hires have a right to work in the U.S.  AGWeb's report is detailed below.

"ICE just showed up."

Arizona dairy producer Ross Tappan was attending a United Dairymen of Arizona meeting in Tempe last April when that text message from his office manager appeared on his mobile phone.

Tappan didn’t panic. He finished the meeting and then drove to his 6,300-cow dairy near Mesa, 25 miles away.

By the time he arrived, the two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents—whose visit had lasted just five minutes—were gone. But their directive had been clear: They would return in 72 hours to collect three years’ worth of I-9 forms and other employee documents from the dairy.

That day marked the beginning of a month-long ordeal that eventually cost Tappan 10 of his dairy’s 90 employees—more than 10% of his work force.

But Tappan believes he was lucky—in a way. The ICE agents didn’t conduct the kind of raid that routs and removes workers on the spot, leaving a dairy with no one to milk or feed its cows. Moreover, as an employer in a state that’s taken a hard-line stance against illegal immigration, Tappan was already one step ahead.

"We’d been preparing for an I-9 audit for three years," he says. "We kind of expected it."

An I-9 audit, often called a "silent raid," involves a thorough ICE inspection of a business’s employee documents, principally I-9 forms and payroll information. The goal is to ensure that employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S.

To meet this goal, the government launched an electronic employee verification program in 1997. It was expanded to all states and the District of Columbia in 2004, and is now called E-Verify. Operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration, E-Verify is an Internet-based system that checks Social Security numbers to verify whether a person can legally work in the U.S.

Nationwide, more than 269,000 employers at more than 900,000 work sites are enrolled in the E-Verify program, DHS says.

While E-Verify isn’t federally mandated, a handful of states, including Arizona, require its use. At Tappan’s dairy, that was enough to spur office manager Elaine Lynch into action three years ago.
"She was adamant that we implement E-Verify," recalls Tappan, general manager of Arizona Dairy Co. "With hindsight, I’m glad we did."

Working with an immigration attorney, Tappan and Lynch conducted a self-audit before implementing E-Verify in 2008. The dairy’s inspection revealed dozens of employees with improper documentation. Tappan was forced to lay off several who couldn’t substantiate their work eligibility. The internal review reassured him that his dairy had verified its work force and that his office staff had learned how to react if ICE agents ever appeared at the dairy.
I 9 audit 2
Elaine Lynch, right, was adamant that Arizona Dairy Co. implement E-Verify three years ago.
"With hindsight, I’m glad we did," says Ross Tappan, left.
PHOTO: Catherine Merlo
After the ICE visit last April, Tappan and his staff went to work pulling more than 200 I-9 forms that the dairy had on file from the past three years. Much of their time was spent copying those originals as well as other requested documents, including payroll information, business licenses and paperwork on employees who were no longer employed.

"There was a funeral the following day that almost all the people on the dairy would be attending," Tappan recalls. "So we spent all night working on the I-9s. It was stressful."

As promised, the ICE agents came back three days later and collected the dairy’s I-9 forms and other documents. Twenty-five days later, the federal agency completed its audit.

It found that 11 of Tappan’s 90 employees did not have legal authorization to work in the U.S. They would have to be fired within 10 days. Half were new hires from the previous three years.
Tappan’s greatest loss was an 11-year employee whose technical and electrical skills had helped boost him to second in command under an overall manager. Others who’d failed ICE’s scrutiny ran feed mixers or worked in the calf operation.

"Six were key people we’ll really miss," Tappan says. "They had never been in trouble with the law. They were family men. They had kids in school here. Their kids played with mine."

One employee later was cleared after the audit mistakenly listed him as undocumented.

Several employees asked Tappan what they could do to legally stay. He advised them to get an immigration lawyer and cautioned that they could be picked up by law enforcement officers. He promised to rehire them if they could produce legal documentation.

"We had some workers living on housing here on the dairy," Tappan says. "I gave them a generous amount of time to leave. I wasn’t going to put anyone out on the street."
Tappan never learned why his dairy was targeted for an I-9 raid. Arizona Dairy Co. was one of 2,393 U.S. businesses that underwent I-9 audits by ICE between Jan. 1 and Aug. 6 of this year, according to Vincent Picard, ICE public affairs officer. That compares to 2,196 audits in 2010 and 1,444 in 2009. It’s not known how many dairies are among those, since ICE doesn’t track audits by industry type. But agricultural sources and news stories indicate that the number of dairy audits is growing.

"I’ve heard that ICE sometimes get calls from disgruntled workers," Tappan says. "We don’t know if we had missed filling out something on our forms. ICE didn’t tell us. I assume they didn’t want to share their trade secrets."

Tappan’s work force is clean now, he says. Most are older employees who gained legal status as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted amnesty to illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before Jan. 1, 1982.

Tappan believes that if he had not been using E-Verify, he would have lost many more employees. "It would have been devastating," he says.

To help protect yourself and your organization, contact Form I-9 Compliance, LLC at 949-640-4949 to provide a voluntary I-9 audit of your records, so you know exactly where the issues are and how you can resolve them.  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ICE Audits Another Hotel in Utah

According to the Utah News, The Grand America Hotel will terminate workers as a result of Department of Homeland Security audit that began last October.  It is estimated that 120 of the hotel's 600 workers will be terminated.

When U.S. Immigration and Customs Encforcement (ICE) audits an employer, they typically provide the employer with a list of suspect documents afterward.  This list essentially indicates the employees that appear to have provided fraudulent documents to the employer when completing the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification form at their time of hire.  The employer must then go to the employees listed and request that they provide different documents acceptable for the Form I-9 (see Lists of Acceptable Documents). 

If the employees fail to provide acceptable documents, then they must be terminated.  This is exactly what has happened with Chipotle Mexican Grill and other high profile employers across the country. Utah News reports:  Bruce Fery, president of The Grand America Hotel, released a statement confirming DHS instructions to not keep anyone employed who was unable to prove a legal right to work in the United States.

There is some speculation that the hotel was targeted because they were not yet signed up for E-Verify as mandated by Utah state law.  This has not been confirmed, but the Utah Rattler reports:

Whatever the case may be, the audit of a large, non-compliant enterprise raises some interesting prospects:
1. Is ICE looking at large companies that aren’t in compliance with Utah’s 2010 E-Verify law?
While ICE will not enforce Utah’s law, looking for non-compliant companies in related laws is a legitimate means of targeting inspections and manpower.
2. Did other competitors file complaints with ICE?
Other hotels using E-Verify can see who is or is not signed up for the system and may have tipped off ICE due to the  illegitimate competitive advantage gained by their non-compliant colleague:
Lori Haley, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, released a statement saying her agency has a responsibility to curb businesses’ appetite for undocumented immigrant labor but wouldn’t confirm the agency did an audit.
“Responsible employers who seek to conduct their business lawfully are put at an unfair disadvantage as they try to compete with unscrupulous businesses,” Haley said in the statement. “Such businesses gain a competitive edge by paying illegal alien workers low wages or otherwise exploiting them. These inspections are one of the most powerful tools the federal government has to ensure that businesses are complying with U.S. employment laws.”
If, however, ICE is using a list of companies in violation of the 2010 law, it will be interesting to see who else is paid a visit, including some of Utah’s dairy farmers, home builders, and other businesses who aligned themselves with amnesty programs (such as HB116) and intimated that they hire “undocumented workers”.
Whether Utah employers are being targeted or not, it is clear that ICE is auditing more and more employers.  The best way to protect yourself and your organization from a similar audit is to have a 3rd party expert auditor review your I-9s now, so you can find out what issues you may have.  Then you can form a plan to deal with the issues BEFORE you are audited by ICE. 

Form I-9 Compliance, LLC has expert auditors that can help you.  Call us at 949-640-4949 to find out which audit service can help you.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 19, 2011

ICE Immigration Audit Results in Escondido Disposal Inc Termination of 25% of Employees

Escondido Disposal Inc. fired 55 of its 200 employees last week after an ICE immigration audit found that those workers lacked proper documentation to work in the United States.  All new hires in the U.S. are required to provide employers with work documents within 3 days of hire.  These documents are required to be recorded on the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification form).

According to Escondido Mayor, Sam Abed, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been conducting more immigration I-9 audits under the Obama adminsitration.  He stated that as a result of the audit, "About 55 jobs that were occupied by illegal workers are now available for legal workers." The Mayor went on to say, "every business must follow the law, and we need to have zero tolerance."

ICE announded that it would audit an additional 1000 employers in June and it appears that they are progressing with those audits.  Before 2009, ICE used to focus on the illegal workers; however, since 2009, ICE has changed its focus to EMPLOYERS.  They are interested in who is hiring illegal workers more than the illegal workers themselves.  To support that mission, they have increased criminal prosecution of employers, owners, managers and officers that hire illegal workers.

For more information on ICE I-9 Audits and how to protect yourself and your organization, please contact us at 949-640-4949 or

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ICE I-9 Audit of Arizona Hotel Results in Employee Terminations

According to the Arizona Daily Sun, Little America Hotel in Flagstaff, AZ had to terminate 18 employees as a result of an ICE audit this summer.  The full article is below.

A federal audit of employee records led managers at Little America hotel in Flagstaff to terminate 18 workers this summer for not being able to provide satisfactory documentation of legal residency. The hotel was required to undertake an investigation after being contacted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS) with questions about whether the employees were eligible.
In a statement to the Daily Sun provided by hotel manager Fred Reese, the hotel said it has always followed federal and state hiring regulations. It also said that all employees affected by the audit were paid their wages in full, along with earned vacation.
"During the audit process, DHS questioned whether 18 hotel employees had valid documentation to work in the United States-- even though they had presented facially valid documents when they were hired," read an excerpt from the statement. "In May 2011, at the direction of DHS, Little America hotel officials met with each of these 18 employees individually (using an interpreter when needed) asking them to update their information to satisfy DHS. Upon receiving this request, some employees gave notice and left Little America employment on their own, some provided additional documentation (which DHS deemed to be unacceptable), and others did not respond."
The statement said that Little America then sent letters to each employee who still needed to provide documentation, and by the end of July, "DHS informed the hotel that those who had not been able to document their right to work in the United States would no longer be eligible to be employed."
Employees came from housekeeping, grounds, the store and the restaurant.
One employee, Celia (not her real name), worked in housekeeping for more than nine years, earning $11.47 an hour and health benefits for full-time work. She was the primary breadwinner in her family, which includes three children, and she said Little America was a good place to be.
Celia has lived in Flagstaff for 15 years. She stayed and started a new job this week as a maid at another Flagstaff hotel, earning a little more than minimum wage without benefits. Some of her former co-workers went to Mexico or moved out of state after losing their jobs.
Audits are not the same as E-verify enforcement. E-verify is a federal service of the Department of Homeland Security (ICE's umbrella organization) and the Social Security Administration, but Arizona's participation is a state law. The service affects all new hires across the state and requires the employer to use E-verify's photo screening tool to match photos used on identification submitted with the I-9 form they complete when hired. Employers cannot use E-verify to re-verify current employees.
Long before E-verify was a state mandate, federal law required employers to verify their workers' identity and employment eligibility with the I-9 forms. It is this confirmation that ICE seeks with audits. Penalties can include fines and criminal prosecution.
ICE spokesman Vincent Picard said audits can be the result of any initiative -- including anonymous tips -- and they have a variety of results. A business can be told there's a technical problem with paperwork, a notice of possibly suspect documents (such as false or stolen identification) or a criminal investigation if they're knowingly hiring authorized workers. An example of a criminal investigation happened in July when the owners of the Flagstaff formalwear shop I Do! I Do! allegedly brought Vietnamese immigrants to the U.S. to do forced labor at the store.
There is benefit of the doubt built into audits, which is why ICE does not apprehend possible illegal immigrant workers right after an audit. For example, a legal worker might be flagged after getting married and changing her name without updating her employment records.
"Just the fact that somebody has documents that might be suspect doesn't mean that they're in the country unlawfully," he said. "So we're focused on conducting those audits and identifying employers who are knowingly or egregiously violating immigration laws and then conducting criminal investigations into that to try and hold employers responsible for breaking the law. That's really where the focus of our resources is being used in the worksite enforcement cases."
Full statement from Little America
In February 2011 the Department of Homeland Security conducted an employee documentation audit at the Little America Hotel Flagstaff. Similar audits have been and are being performed in several businesses in Arizona and throughout the country.
During the audit process DHS questioned whether 18 hotel employees had valid documentation to work in the United States -- even though they had presented facially valid documents when they were hired. In May 2011, at the direction of DHS, Little America hotel officials met with each of these 18 employees individually (using an interpreter when needed) asking them to update their information to satisfy DHS. Upon receiving this request, some employees gave notice and left Little America employment on their own, some provided additional documentation (which DHS deemed to be unacceptable), and others did not respond. Subsequently, Little America again attempted to acquire the requested DHS documentation by sending a letter to each employee who had not provided additional documentation requested by DHS. Finally, by the end of July, DHS informed the hotel that those who had not been able to document their right to work in the United States would no longer be eligible to be employed. All employees affected by the DHS audit were paid their wages in full along with earned vacation.
The Little America Hotel Flagstaff has always followed federal and state hiring regulations. In 2006, the hotel began verifying all applicant Social Security numbers with the Social Security Administration, a step that was not required by the federal government. In January 2008, the hotel adopted the federal E-Verify system, as required by Arizona law.

For more information on how we can help protect you and your business, please contact us at 949-640-4949 or 

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Farmland Foods Settles with Department of Justice for $290,400

In case you missed it, on August 22, 2011, the Department of Justice announced a record anti-discrimination settlement agreement with Farmland Foods, Inc. to resolve allegations that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination during the I-9 process.

According to the DOJ’s press release (see link below), Farmland, a major producer of pork products in the United States, had a practice of requiring all newly hired non-U.S. citizens and some foreign-born U.S. citizens at its Monmouth, Illinois plant to present specific and, in many cases, extra work-authorization documents beyond those required by law. Under the terms of the settlement, Farmland has agreed to pay $290,400, the highest civil penalty paid through a settlement since the INA’s anti-discrimination provision went into effect in 1986.

Farmland has also agreed to train its human resources personnel about proper I-9 procedure, and provide periodic reports to the DOJ for monitoring purposes.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Two New ICE Training Centers Open - $2.5M

According to a new press release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they have just opened two new ICE training centers.  Below are the contents of this new release.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Director Connie Patrick officially opened the ICE Academy complex during a joint ribbon cutting ceremony held at the FLETC headquarters Wednesday.

The new facility is dedicated to training and preparing the agency's special agents and officers to enforce the nation's immigration and customs laws. The ICE Academy, co-located on the Glynco, Ga., site, gives agency recruits the specialized training needed to work as a part the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

"With more than 20,000 employees in over 400 offices in the United States and around the world, ICE agents and officers play a crucial role in protecting the security of our homeland," said ICE Director Morton. "The ICE Academy at FLETC is a vital first step providing a strong educational foundation to prepare our agents and officers to take on all types of law enforcement challenges."

"Through collaboration with its partners, FLETC ensures that our students are provided with the best possible learning environment in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. This facility is another example of the success of consolidated federal law enforcement training," said FLETC Director Patrick.

The ICE Academy and FLETC collaborated on the $2.5 million renovation to create a state-of-the-art learning facility for students. The three-story facility contains four computer labs, nine classrooms, two electronics labs and two breakout rooms.  The goal of the ICE-funded project was to provide a central classroom location for all ICE Academy basic and specialized training programs. The FLETC will use excess classroom capacity for other training course available at the Glynco site.

The classroom complex will house ICE's two basic training programs: ICE Enforcement and Removal Basic Law Enforcement Training and ICE Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Training. Specialized ICE programs designated for the building include technical enforcement, Spanish language and instructor development courses.

The mission of the ICE Academy is to develop and deliver professional training programs in order to provide ICE employees with the knowledge, skills and abilities essential to ICE's national security and law enforcement mission. In Fiscal Year 2010, the ICE Academy trained nearly 4,000 ICE employees, enrolled in more than 30 distinct training programs. This training was provided and supported by nearly 200 professionals from every ICE discipline that make up the Academy staff.

The FLETC serves as an interagency law enforcement training organization for 90 federal agencies. In addition, the organization provides training to state, local, campus, tribal and international law enforcement agencies. During Fiscal Year 2010, more than 65,000 students trained at the FLETC centers. Since its inception in 1970, nearly 940,000 law enforcement officers and agents have been trained at the largest law enforcement training organization in the country.

Headquartered on a 1,600-acre campus at Glynco, the FLETC also operates facilities in Artesia, N.M., Charleston, S.C., and Cheltenham, Md. Additionally, the FLETC has oversight responsibility on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security for the International Law Enforcement Academy at Gaborone, Botswana, and assists in the management of the ILEA in Bangkok, Thailand, and supports training at each of these ILEAs, as well as the ILEA in Budapest, Hungary, and El Salvador, San Salvador.

Labels: , , , , ,

Alabama Immigration Law Blocked...Temporarily

According to the Associated Press, a federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of Alabama's new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

This is not necessarily a surprise, since this law is considered to be the most aggressive among any state in the U.S. It goes far beyond just ensuring that workers have a right to work in the U.S., it:
  1. requires schools to verify the citizenship status of students;
  2. makes it illegal to knowingly assist an illegal immigrant;
  3. allows police officers to detain suspected illegal immigrants;
  4. mandatory use of E-Verify for employers;
  5. makes it illegal for people to NOT report illegal immigrants...
The law has come under fire from the beginning and it was expected to be postponed because of legal challenges. However, the Alabama law is expected to pass after some of the more stringent elements are removed. For example, we fully expect that all employers will be required to use E-Verify. There is already a precedent for this established by the U.S. Supreme Court.

So stay tuned for more and continue to take steps necessary to protect yourself and your company by ensuring that your workers are elgibile to work in the U.S.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

3 Men Enter Guilty Pleas in Forged Immigration Documents Case

Two Tulare men and one from Orosi who authorities said conspired to make and sell forged immigration documents, each entered a guilty plea in Fresno’s Federal Court Tuesday.
It is expected that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), will begin inspecting local Fresno County businesses for employers who may have hired and continue to employ those unauthorized workers whom used fraudulent documents to gain employment.
This creates a bigger problem for the EMPLOYERS, who will face fines in excess of $3,200 per employee violation as well as criminal charges for hiring each unauthorized worker.

Fake Social Security CardRuben Gonzalez Gonzalez, 44, and Noel Fernando Canales Amador, 28, both from Tulare, and Margarito Zavala Barrera, 32, of Orosi, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce and transfer fraudulent immigration and identification documents.
According to court documents, between December 21 and April 6, Gonzalez sold fraudulent documents to several customers, meeting them in public locations throughout the county and region. He took their pictures and collected
personal information, which he then passed on to either
Zavala Barrera or Canales Amador, who produced the requested documents, authorities said.

“Anyone who knowingly and indiscriminately sells phony identity cards is putting the security of our communities and even our country at risk,” said Paul Leonardi, Immigration and Customs Enforcement resident agent. “Counterfeit documents can potentially be used by dangerous criminals and others who are attempting to obscure their identities and cover their tracks.”

Gonzalez charged about $80 for a set of documents, which included a forged Social Security card and an alien registration card. The three men are subject to a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. Federal and state agencies worked together in this case, Department of Justice Spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said.

Labels: , , , , , ,