By Dawn Lurie and Mahsa Aliaskari

Just how much money did Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fine US companies last year? While we don’t have an exact number confirmed by the government, we do know the fine amounts skyrocketed to over $10 million according to data released by ICE in response to a request from the Associated Press. What’s more important is the fact that ICE issued over 3,000 Notices of Inspection (NOI) in FY 2012. An NOI initiates a government administrative inspection of a company’s Form I-9s. NOIs are considered administrative tools which are used to assist in criminal investigations. We also know that 238 company managers were arrested last year in light of these investigations. Under the Obama administration, civil administrative audits are just one of many tools ICE is using to reduce the demand for unauthorized unemployment and protect opportunities for U.S. workers. This enforcement strategy also includes the expanded use of civil penalties, employer audits, and debarment. While ICE has told stakeholders it no longer tracks the conclusion of an investigation or whether a matter is being pursued before the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), we know the Agency does track how many Notices of Inspection (NOIs), Notices of Fines, Final Orders, and Debarments it issues. The scope of this Alert does not cover debarments for federal contractors, but it should be noted that ICE has rapidly expanded the program and continues to refine the suspension and debarment process.

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