Fresno, California – Datatech has been following this labor issue for months and it keeps growing with intensity. Published reports are pointing to thousands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) employer audits since last October and by the end of the fiscal year, the number will grow much higher. The Associated Press published a story on Monday pointing to the increase in ICE employer audits.
In the AP article, ICE’s head of Homeland Security Investigations, Derek Benner says get ready for a tsunami of employer audits, “This summer will push the total well over 5,000 by Sept 30. ICE has developed a plan to
open as many as 15,000 audits a year, subject to funding and support for the plan from other areas of the Trump Administration.” The plan is based on setting up an inspection center and then as audits are done, the cases that need the most attention will be sent to regional ICE offices for further investigations. During this recent crackdown, ICE has focused on criminal employer activity and deporting immigrant workers, this M.O. will continue says, Benner.
So as an Ag employer have your Forms I-9 ducks in a row and ready for easy access. Datatech’s Human Resources Management software is designed to help clients with the compliance documentation. You can watch a video here that shows what Datatech is doing.
As a member of the Farm Employers Labor Service, Datatech stays on top of the last resources for our clients. FELS recently updated their resources for ag employers in light of this intense ICE audit activity. Here are some key employer considerations from FELS:
- Have a well-organized procedure, executed by employees well trained in that procedure, to ensure that a Form I-9 is timely and correctly completed for each newly hired employee. Consistency in creating and handling Forms I-9 is crucial to ensure they are correct, complete, and available as required by ICE rules, and for California employers avoid actions that are discriminatory under California or federal law (i.e., “document discrimination,” the discriminatory act of demanding a particular document on the basis of your perception of a new employee’s nationality or immigration status).
- Have Forms I-9 available as required should you receive a “72-hour letter” from ICE instructing you to make Forms I-9 available for inspection or analysis by ICE. FELS has long recommended that Forms I-9 be stored separately from other employee-related documents, that I-9s for current employees be segregated from those of ex-employees, and that you refrain from making photocopies of documents offered by new hires for inspection when you are completing Section 2. You are not required to make or retain photocopies; you are merely required only to inspect the document to verify it appears to be genuine and related to the person offering it. Retention of photocopies gives ICE personnel the opportunity to second-guess your judgment months or years after the fact.
- (California employers) Understand and comply with the requirements of California Government Code section 7285.1, -.2, and -.3 and Labor Code sections 90.2 and 1019.2, which became effective in January 2018. These new provisions, enacted in 2017 by AB 450 (Chiu, D-San Francisco), require you to demand a search warrant before allowing an immigration enforcement agent access to non-public areas of your business, to decline to provide I-9-related documents without a subpoena (unless making such a demand would violate federal law), and to post for employees a notice of immigration-enforcement actions. (You can view a recent FELS webinar on AB 450 and see additional information about AB 450 compliance at this link.)
Datatech will continue to follow this story. Datatech serves agribusinesses across America with time-saving farm management, payroll, and human resources software with digital document management capabilities.