ICE Opens Center for I-9 Inspections

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) further turned up the heat on employers by opening an I-9 inspection center last week. The National Employment Compliance Inspection Center is located in Crystal City, Virginia, and houses 15 forensic I-9 auditors.

The Center will serve as a resource to ICE offices nationwide, speeding up processing times for I-9 audits and increasing the annual number of audits ICE can conduct. Most of the fines levied against employers have come from audits of relatively small employers, because ICE did not have the infrastructure to support audits of larger employers. With the National Employment Compliance Inspection Center, ICE will be able to expand its audit reach to large corporations.
The opening of the new inspection center is consistent with the Obama Administration’s plan to make employers pay for I-9 violations. In 2010, employers paid nearly $7 million in fines following I-9 audits. By contrast, fines in 2009 totaled only $1 million and 2008 penalties topped out at $700,000.
Fines for even seemingly small technical I-9 errors can be as much as $1,100. So, increasing the number of audits virtually guarantees I-9 fines will continue to skyrocket. “ICE now has the ability to target employers of all different sizes,” says Ryan Adair, MSEC’s Manager of Immigration Services. “I expect I-9 fines nationwide to hit $25 million in the next year or two.”