Immigration violations to cost employers dearly

Source: USCIS

Higher civil fines will be imposed on employers who violate federal immigration laws. This was announced by the U.S Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey on February 22, 2008, in a joint briefing with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff about newly enacted border security reforms put in place by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

Under the new rule, which will be published in the Federal Register early next week and will take effect on March 27, 2008, civil fines will increase by as much as $5,000.

Current Law

Currently, employers in violation of federal employment eligibility requirements are subject to monetary penalties under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Violations can be of various kind, including

-        Knowingly employing unauthorized aliens
-        Failure to comply with employment eligibility requirements relating to verification forms
-        Wrongful discrimination against job applicants/employees on the basis of nationality or citizenship
-        Immigration-related document frauds

For each of these violations, the employer has the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge in the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

New Law

Under the new law, the monetary civil penalties are adjusted for inflation. The average adjustment is approximately 25 percent. These penalties were last adjusted in 1999. So for example, the new penalty for knowingly employing unauthorized aliens increases from $275 to $375, a 100$ increase. Some of the higher civil penalties are increased by higher margins; for example, the maximum penalty for a first violation increases from $2,200 to $3,200.

The biggest increase is in the maximum civil penalty for multiple violations, from the current $11,000 to $16,000. These penalties are on a per-alien basis, which means if an employer knowingly employed five unauthorized aliens, the penalty will be five times the amount.

In addition to the higher civil penalties, the new regulations include broader prosecutions and removals of criminal aliens, a streamlining of existing guest worker programs, and the Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative etc. 

The Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative includes a $100 million request in new Justice Department funding for FY 2009 for new hiring and resources to better enable the United States to combat the flow of illegal immigration, drugs, and weapons across the Southwest Border, and to arrest, detain, prosecute, and incarcerate violent criminals, drug offenders, and immigration violators along the Southwest Border. More information on this funding request can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2008/January/08_opa_079.html and
http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2008/January/08_opa_080.html .