The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has announced that, as at July 21, 2011, it has fined 14 employers in New England this year for hiring illegal aliens in violation of law.

The companies were the subject of an investigation and audit of their Form I-9 documents, which is part of ICE’s ongoing worksite enforcement strategy. Following investigation, the companies, located from Massachusetts to Maine, were subjected to fines ranging from $23,000 to more than $100,000.

Nationally, ICE has been pursuing a worksite enforcement strategy, launched in 2009, to reduce demand for illegal employment of aliens and to protect employment opportunities for America’s legal workforce. This strategy has focused on auditing and investigating employers suspected of hiring workers later determined to be unauthorized for employment in the United States.

As quoted by Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in charge of ICE in Boston:

“These settlements serve as a reminder to employers that ICE will continue to hold them accountable for hiring and maintaining a legal and compliant workforce. We encourage companies to take the employment verification process seriously.”

ICE’s continued focus on worksite enforcement warrants employers’ ensuring their compliance with the employment verification process. Employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for every individual hired for employment in the United States. Each employee is required to provide the employer with proof that the employee is authorized to work in the United States. Failure to properly complete the employment verification process can lead, at a minimum, to fines or, depending on the seriousness of any uncovered violations, a criminal investigation of an employer by ICE.

The Global Immigration practice of Jackson Lewis routinely advises our clients in navigating the employment verification process.