California Labor and Employment Defense Blog

Increased Immigration Enforcement In California

Employers in California and across the country are realizing the increased enforcement of the immigration laws. As this Los Angeles Times article notes that the number of employees arrested for workforce violations has increased to 3,667 in 2006 from 485 in 2002, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“This year, federal immigration officials raided restaurants in California and 16 other states and arrested nearly 200 illegal immigrants working for a janitorial company. That followed similar high-profile raids in Maryland, Indiana and Kentucky that amounted to some of the largest and harshest penalties against employers in history.” The article also mentions that two executives of Golden State Fence Co. based in Riverside were found guilty of violating the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) and were sentenced to six months of home confinement and fined a combined $300,000 for employing scores of illegal workers. In addition, the company was also required to pay a $4.7 million penalty.

With nearly 90% of illegal immigrants using fraudulent documents, employers are placed in a very difficult situation. Employers must accept the documents presented by the employee to verify employment eligibility if they reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the employee who presents them. However, refusing to accept reasonable documents is discrimination and also violates the anti-discrimination provisions of IRCA.

IRCA requires that employers verify an employee’s eligibility to work, which includes having every employee fill out the Form I-9. The Form I-9 must be kept for 3 years after hire date or 1 year after termination, whichever is longer. The I-9 must be completed on the employee’s first day of work and the employer must complete section two of the form no later than the employee’s third day. 
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