The scorching Texas summer is not the only heat Texas employers are feeling these days. According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has hit 23 Texas companies with civil fines exceeding $600,000 for hiring unauthorized workers, failing to comply with regulatory employment verification requirements, or both. Some of these employers are also facing criminal prosecutions.

It is no secret that the current administration has placed heavy emphasis on enforcing workplace laws and numerous employers have felt the brunt of it. Enforcing immigration laws that prohibit employers from hiring unauthorized workers and that require all employers to verify each new hire for work authorization and completion of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form is a part of the overall scheme. And, since there are budget deficits that must be made up, hefty fines for violations help.

Under this enforcement regime, employers are cast as the villains of the piece and the cause for the massive influx of illegal workers into this country. Rather than deporting apprehended illegal workers, the government now allows many to remain in the United States, where they are given employment authorization in return for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of employers.