EMPLOYERS TAKE NOTICE
WORKSITE ENFORCEMENT IS AN “ICE” TOP PRIORITY
In 1986, Congress enacted the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) which for the first
time made employers active participants in a comprehensive system to eliminate employment as
a “magnet” that attracts individuals to come to and reside in the United States illegally. Under
IRCA, all employers are required to verify the identity and work authorization of all individuals
hired after November 6, 1986. This requirement is implemented through the completion and
execution of Section 1 of Form I-9 by the employee, submission to the employer by the
employee of acceptable I-9 identity and employment eligibility documents and the review and
verification of these documents by the employer as documented on Section 2 of Form I-9.
Employers who fail to properly complete the required I-9 documentation face a maximum civil
fine of $1,100 per employee while those found to have knowingly hired and continued to employ
an unauthorized worker could pay a civil fine of up to $3,200 per employee for a first time
offense and a civil fine of up to $16,000 per employee if an employer has more than two
offenses. Moreover, if an employer engages in a pattern and practice of failing to comply with
IRCA’s employer sanctions provisions, such criminal conduct could result in criminal fines of
$3,000 per unauthorized employee and a prison term of not more than six months.
Responsibility for enforcement of the employment eligibility verification program created by
IRCA was vested initially in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The principal
focus of this agency was on educating employers regarding their obligations under this law and
seeking their compliance with such obligations. Those enforcement initiatives undertaken by
INS, more often than not resulted in settlements with negotiated fines and the employer’s
agreement to comply in the future. However, since the creation in March 2003 of U.S.