Audits Aim to Stop Employers from Hiring Undocumented Workers

The Obama administration has launched a major initiative to hold employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers and illegal immigrants. The primary investigative tool being used to uncover undocumented workers is an audit of the employers’ employment records. The Star Tribune is reporting that at least 2000 undocumented workers in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, were fired because of inability to prove their eligibility for US employment.

The Department of Homeland Security conducted 2200 employer audits in 2010; a 50% increase. The audits seek to prove that employers documented workers on their payrolls.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requires employers to verify the eligibility for employees to accept employment in the United States. Based on the IRCA, new hires are given 3 days to provide evidence of eligibility for employment in the US through the Employment Eligibility Verification Form commonly known as the I9. Employees complete a section of the I9 and company officers certify that they have seen documentation from social security cards, to passports to worker authorizations, to verify employment eligibility. If employment files reveal no evidence of the I9, during audits, employees are given 90 days to prove eligibility for employment in the US.

Some results of these audits in the Twin Cities included:

– 1,200 workers fired at ABM Industries, Inc.,and company fined over $100, 000
– 250 employees fired from Harvard Maintenance
– 450 workers from Chipotle Mexican Grill fired. Other workers for this national restaurant chain walked away from jobs in other cities fearing audits.
– ROC Commercial Cleaning had janitors quit when audits began. Almost 130 employees, the entire workforce, with this company could lose their jobs

Minneapolis and St. Paul are not the only American cities where these undocumented worker audits are being conducted.

A 2008 audit at Howard Industries In Mississippi resulted in a former HR executive placed under 6-month house-arrest for hiring hundreds of undocumented workers. Howard Industries was fined $2.5 million after an immigration raid discovered 600 undocumented workers. Most of the undocumented workers were deported and some were jailed for fraud and identity theft.

After the raid, hundreds of Americans lined up outside Howard Industries to apply for the jobs vacated by the undocumented workers.


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