Blog Archive

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ICE audits target illegal workers

By Mike Sunnucks
Phoenix Business Journal
February 21, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is auditing more businesses — in particular fast food and quick serve restaurants it suspects might be hiring illegal immigrants. That includes the Southwest and nationally.

The ICE audits are a far cry from the immigration raids conducted by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, said Nancy-Jo Merritt, a partner and employment attorney for the Phoenix law office of Fennemore Craig PC. “It’s not like the sheriff’s thing,” said Merritt.

The ICE actions are more akin to IRS tax audits, while the MCSO raids are more like an episode of “Cops.”

MCSO deputies have gone into businesses to arrest suspected illegal immigrants and seize files. Sometimes Sheriff Joe Arpaio is there with media in tow.

The stepped-up ICE actions target businesses that have workers listed under Social Security numbers that are either bogus or replicated elsewhere, Merritt said.

Merritt said ICE has sent out notice of inspection letters to a number of Arizona businesses telling them to have employment records and I-9 worker identification forms ready within three days.

Restaurants along with hotels, construction and services are among industries that tend to have substantial numbers of immigrants workers, some with legal employment status and some of illegal.

ICE is not allowing employers to ask for extensions to comply with the audit.

Both the ICE audits and sheriff’s raids bring attention to illegal workers and discourage other companies from breaking laws, Merritt said.