Since the Obama Administration began taking a strong stance on immigration, one of the most important rules not to violate was knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants. However, as business audits continue, the administration is continually reducing fines by an average of 40 percent. Some worry this approach is not strict enough and does not create an incentive for companies to hire legal workers.
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According to one audit conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, a business’s fine was reduced from $4.9 million to only $1 million. Investigators have concluded that this type of reduction is legal, but it is contradictory to the Obama Administration’s stated goals of ensuring that businesses are hiring documented immigrants, not displacing U.S. workers and treating immigrants in a humane way. “The knowledge that fines can be significantly reduced may diminish the effectiveness of fines as a deterrent to hiring unauthorized workers,” the inspector general said.
Business owners seem to be in agreement that an immigration bill legalizing undocumented immigrants is something they can support because it is giving them an entire new supply of “legal guest workers.” Since this report, ICE says they will be conducting more audits of businesses checking their I-9 forms and requiring businesses to prove that their employees are authorized to work in the U.S.
According to the Inspector General’s Report, ICE should have collected a total of $52.7 million in fines between 2009 and 2012, but they only charged businesses $31.2 million of this sum. If such laws are implemented to help ensure safe workplace standards and a fair wage to workers, it is important that businesses follow through on their side as well as the government in regards to fining those who break the law.
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