• DHS/ICE Serves 1000 New I-9 Notices of Inspection on Targeted Critical Infrastructure Employers
  • November 24, 2009 | Author: Mary E. Pivec
  • Law Firm: Keller and Heckman LLP - Washington Office
  • On November 19, 2009, DHS Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton announced that the agency has just served 1000 I-9 Notices of Inspection accompanied by lengthy administrative subpoenas on private employers who deliver services related to public safety and critical infrastructure.

    Assistant Secretary Morton, a career federal prosecutor, stated that these employers have been targeted for in-depth immigration compliance audits based on active leads suggesting that they are employing undocumented workers -- which poses a potential threat to national security and deprives lawful workers of employment opportunities. Developing information suggests that certain of these private employers hold state and federal contracts that have come under scrutiny for alleged wage and safety violations.

    ICE agents possess broad investigative authority, including the ability to compel testimony under oath from individuals with knowledge of the company's I-9 practices, hiring, and recruitment procedures. Evidence developed in the course of these administrative compliance audits establishing that the employer (through its agents) knew or should have known that it was employing illegal workers may face administrative charges, substantial civil money penalties, and debarment from participation in the award of future federal contracts. In addition, such evidence may support criminal prosecutions against individuals and companies under a variety of felony theories, conviction of which can result in substantial criminal penalties, forfeitures, and jail time.

    Based on the potential criminal penalties, employers who have received I-9 inspection notices and related immigration compliance subpoenas should seek the advice of competent counsel in assessing the company's legal position and identifying the appropriate course of action for responding to the government's inquiries and document production requests. A confidential internal investigation to identify and correct compliance deficiencies, if any, is highly recommended.