Businesses Struggle to Cope with Immigration Audits

Aug 17, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
Immigration audits require companies to produce workers' citizenship documents to authorities.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has audited a record number of businesses this year, forcing undocumented workers off payrolls and putting business owners in difficult situations, the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

As of August 6, ICE had audited or was in the process of auditing 2,393 companies, which the Journal said was the highest recorded number ever for a single fiscal year.

In 2009, the Obama administration scaled back deportation raids in favor of audits, which require employers to furnish documents establishing the citizenship status of employees. Illegal workers are let go rather than deported and fines are levied against companies that employ them, according to the WSJ.

The Journal reported this approach might be hurting both workers and businesses. Immigrants are being driven out of well-paying jobs with benefits into subsistence work. Audited businesses are forced to replace good employees and sometimes cannot find authorized workers willing to take on the vacant jobs.

Audits also raise the potential that unauthorized workers will produce forged or counterfeit documents. U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement's Forensic Document Lab employs more than 60 analysts who identify fraudulent identification documents. 

To reduce the number of undocumented workers put on payrolls, several states recently enacted laws requiring employers to check the immigration status of applicants using the federal E-Verify database.