• DHS Raises Civil Fines for Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers
  • April 21, 2008 | Authors: Pierre Georges Bonnefil; Robert S. Groban; Elise A. Healy; Jang Hyuk Im; William M. Poole
  • Law Firms: Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. - New York Office ; Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. - Office ; Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. - San Francisco Office
  • On February 22, 2008, the DHS announced a 25% increase in the civil fines that can be levied against employers who violate federal immigration laws. Under the new fine system, the maximum civil penalty for multiple violations will rise from $11,000 to $16,000. Additionally, some of the higher civil penalties for a first violation will increase by $1,000. The new rule will take effect on March 27, 2008. For additional information, you can access the February 26, 2008 Federal Register announcement at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html

    Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff announced this fine increase during a joint news briefing discussing the federal government's progress on worksite enforcement. In addition, Secretary Chertoff stated that DHS soon will issue a rule requiring federal contractors to participate in the E-Verify employment eligibility system, and that a new "Safe Harbor" rule regarding the process employers should follow for "No-Match" letters received from Social Security would soon follow.

    Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), any employer that violates employment eligibility requirements is subject to civil monetary penalties. Employers may be fined under the INA for knowingly employing unauthorized aliens or for other violations, including failure to comply with requirements relating to employment eligibility verification forms, wrongful discrimination against job applicants or employees on the basis of nationality or citizenship, and immigration-related document fraud, according to the departments. Civil fines are assessed on a one violation per alien basis. For example, if an employer knowingly employed, or continued to employ, seven unauthorized aliens, that would result in seven separate fines. Employers contesting fines have the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge in the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review.