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Batten Down the Hatches, an ‘ICE’ Storm Is About to Blow In…

It’s official! Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will extend its immigration actions in the workplace.

Since the 2016 election, we have talked with employers about the effect the Trump administration’s policy on immigration could have in the workplace. 

On Oct. 17, the acting director of ICE, Thomas Holman, announced that the agency intends to quadruple the number of worksite enforcement actions throughout the country. This means employers should expect a dramatic increase in the number of Form I-9 inspections initiated by ICE. These inspections involve ICE agents auditing an employer’s Form I-9s and other employment records to evaluate whether the employer properly verified its employees’ work authorization statuses and to determine whether the employer is employing unauthorized aliens.

Employers face significant fines for substantive mistakes when completing the Form I-9 or for knowingly employing undocumented workers. More importantly, employers should expect more ICE I-9 inspections to morph into criminal prosecutions of businesses, managers, owners and employees who allegedly hire and employ undocumented immigrants. For example, ICE recently announced a record-setting fine of $95 million against a tree-trimming company with operations throughout the United States.

In addition to increased workplace investigation by ICE, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also greatly increased its site visits to verify compliance with rules and terms of employment for employees holding nonimmigrant visas in the categories of H1B, L1, O-1 and R1 status.

Employers should consider preparing for these anticipated enforcement actions, particularly in the food service, hospitality, manufacturing, construction and agriculture industries, which ICE tends to target. To do so, employers should consider implementing a robust immigration compliance program, including:

  • an immigration compliance policy;

  • step-by-step procedures for completing the I-9 and responding to “no match” notices;

  • regular internal I-9 audits;

  • an ICE audit or raid response plan;

  • protocols for managing USCIS – ICE Fraud Detection & National Security (FDNS) visits for nonimmigrant visa employees; and

  • regular, effective training of your immigration compliance team.



About this Author

Michael Palmer, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, South Bend and Grand Rapids, Labor and Employment Litigation Law Attorney

Michael Palmer is a partner in the South Bend, Indiana and Grand Rapids, Michigan offices of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He primarily represents private and public sector employers in all aspects of labor and employment law. Mr. Palmer also devotes a portion of his practice to fair housing issues.

In his labor and employment practice, Mr. Palmer handles union-related issues, employment litigation, general employment counseling, and immigration compliance. In union-related matters, he represents management in union organizing campaigns and...

Jeffrey L Papa, Indianapolis, Indiana, Labor and Employment law, Barnes Thornburg, immigration matters, visa issues, nonimmigrant status, permanent residency issues, citizenship, government affairs

Jeffrey L. Papa is a partner in the Indianapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Department.

Mr. Papa focuses his practice on immigration matters. He counsels clients on a number of issues, including nonimmigrant status and visa issues, permanent residency and citizenship matters, as well as on higher education and government affairs issues.

Mr. Papa provided immigration law services to Barnes & Thornburg clients for nearly seven years in an earlier role, and served two terms as chair of the Indiana chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, as well as two terms on the national board of governors of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.

Prior to re-joining Barnes & Thornburg, Mr. Papa was the chief of staff and chief legal counsel for the Indiana Senate and also served as the first mayor of the Town of Zionsville, Indiana, in 2015. He previously was an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg from 2001-2007.

Mariana Richmond, Barnes Thornburg Law firm, Indianapolis, Labor Law Attorney

Mariana Richmond is a partner in the Corporate Department in the Indianapolis, Indiana office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and heads the Immigration Practice Group. She is a member of the Global Services Practice Group and limits her practice to immigration law, serving corporate as well as individual clients. Ms. Richmond assists multinational corporations with the transfer and hiring of foreign nationals for their operations in the United States on a temporary or permanent basis. She advises in-house counsel and human resources administrators who need guidance on immigration matters...

M. Mercedes Badia-Tavas, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Chicago, Immigration, Labor and Employment Law Attorney

M. Mercedes Badia-Tavas is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg, where she is a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Department and the Immigration and Global Mobility Services Practice Group. Ms. Badia-Tavas concentrates on immigration and naturalization law, focusing on immigration matters for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. She regularly counsels clients on the employment of foreign nationals, the permanent residency process, and immigration compliance issues.

Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg...