The Issue of Illegal Immigration and I-9 Audits | DCR Workforce Blog

The Issue of Illegal Immigration and I-9 Audits

An amnesty plan has been announced to indefinitely delay the deportation of 300000 of illegal immigrants in America and to provide them with support through the issue of work permits and a jobs program; and California’s Governor Brown has granted high-achieving illegal immigrants students access to state financial aid at public universities and community colleges. But then, anyone who employs a person who lacks proper documents, they could end up facing stiff penalties and even expose their companies to business death penalty. Does it seem consistent or paradoxical in approach?

The Issue of Illegal Immigration:

Immigration of skilled workers is considered actually desirable by many developed countries across the world, but the entry of illegal immigrants into any country is frowned upon for reasons like the drain on the economy, the threat to the national security, and the burden on public funds towards the health, education housing and other needs of the illegal immigrants.

By hiring illegal immigrants, businesses gain an unfair cost advantage, in the short term, against those that are law-abiding and would not resort to such practices while staying illegally in a foreign country exposes persons to exploitation at work and inferior living conditions; while fostering the growth of other unlawful practices such as the following:

  • Illegal employment practices with lower wages than permitted, undercutting the prevailing wages
  • Creation of false/forged records for driving licenses and personal documents
  • Rampant smuggling of drugs into the country and other illegal acts
  • Encroachment into the rightful employment, education and other opportunities of the citizens and legal immigrants in to the country.
  • Plea bargains followed by deportation – with inevitable re-entry at a future date.
  • Moreover, most crimes against illegal immigrants tend to go unpunished as they dare not report them fearing deportation.

The Consequences of I-9 Violations:

The increasing use of I-9 audits aims to control the hiring of illegal and undocumented workers by targeting even the minor violations of employers. The process of Form I-9 prohibits employers from making it necessary to provide different documents to establish their identity as well as eligibility to work in the United States and terms such insistence as unfair documentary practices. Employers are also not allowed to reject documents which appear ‘prima facie’ to be genuine. Driver’s License and an unrestricted Social Security Card are considered to be adequate for I-9 requirements. Employers cannot ask ‘foreign-looking’ applicants with ‘foreign names’ to produce their Green Cards and/or birth certificates. Actually, the employee is free to submit any of the acceptable I-9 documents.

The audit process comprises of vetting the I-9s filed by an employer and issuing a Notice of Technical Deficiencies, for violations that can be cured – which provides a 10 day window of time for doing so. Other more serious offences may result in fines and criminal prosecution too. The penalties are influenced by a consideration of 5 factors; the size of the business, its good faith effort at compliance, nature of violation, and whether it involved unauthorized workers and whether the employer has an established history of previous violations. Many states have laws which strip the business licenses from companies operating in the state if they display a consistent pattern of hiring unauthorized workers.

Why Regularize?

Many countries across the world have gone the route of integrating illegal immigrants into society to remove exploitation, improve the law & order situation as well as national security, eradicate the underground economy and increase tax revenues to offset the cost of social services and to gain a legal workforce while improving the chance of better adherence to immigration laws in the future.

It is generally argued that regularization of illegal immigrants encourages the culture of law-breaking and further unauthorized entry in to the country and increases the cost of social services and that it would prove to be a mockery of all the efforts put in by legal immigrants who have worked hard and toed the line on all the rules and regulations to realize their American Dream.

But one thing is for sure. If no one hires an illegal immigrant, would immigrants be making any effort to enter the country illegally or try to stay back without a valid visa?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.