Criminalization of Illegal Employment even for Small Employers
Anyone who has employment responsibilities should be aware that, based on recent developments in immigration enforcement, hiring unauthorized individuals is now being criminally prosecuted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, leading to incarceration and confiscation of properties rather than just civil fines. The trend from civil fines to criminalization began a few years ago with high profile investigations of large employers of . (See my article of June 2007).
A recent prosecution makes clear that the Bush administration intended to come equally hard against small employers, as we predicted in 2007. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency recently announced that a small restaurant owner has been incarcerated for eight months, all of his business properties have been confiscated, and he will face deportation upon release for having hired unauthorized individuals. (See ICE press release of January 7, 2009). Furthermore, the senate testimony of Janet Napolitano, Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary nominee, suggests that the trend is likely to continue and even accelerate.
It is therefore more important than ever to verify the employment eligibility of all individuals and to maintain good records of their I-9 forms and supporting documentation.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if I could be of further assistance to you or others for any immigration matters.
Pierre Choné (January 2009)