There’s a lot of semantic debate these days over what to name foreign nationals who violate U.S. immigration policies and national laws – whether you call them illegal immigrants, illegal aliens or undocumented workers, it comes down to the same thing at the end of the day for every business: hire them, and you’ll pay big fines if detected. Though the majority of U.S. companies do not intend to violate immigration laws; in fact, more compliance violations occur from nonexistent or simple lazy I-9 verification than intentionally shady hiring practices. Breaking the law is easily accomplished if you’re not properly prepared; the bottom line is this –
“If you are not actively planning to examine and verify employee documentation properly, you are planning to break the law”.
I-9 Compliance requires all businesses to be able to demonstrate that they’ve made an honest effort to verify that an applicant who completes an I-9 form for employment is who he or she claims to be – a U.S. citizen or a worker authorized to work in the United States.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply ask an applicant to complete the required I-9 form and provide a photo ID in the Age of Technology. Fabricating false identification is as easy as a few mouse clicks and familiarity with a digital camera and high quality printer. The fight is particularly fierce in California and Texas; these border states are experiencing an onslaught fake ID rings, whose sophisticated document-making equipment can produce high quality fake IDs, passports and social security cards at a charge of about $100 per item to their customers. This is considered a small price to pay for those seeking a means of acquiring the pay and benefits of an American job.
Businesses Ultimately Pay the Price
As a result of the ubiquity of these activities, unprepared businesses are the ones that will pay some of the biggest prices. Penalties range from $100 to $1,000 for each incorrect or missing I-9 and there are steeper fines for employing undocumented workers.
Fortunately, with today’s leading ID document verification tools, you don’t have to be an expert to make a good faith effort, and in fact go beyond good faith efforts to securely verify the legitimacy of a potential employee’s identity. In addition, here are a few tips to make sure you are doing all you can to avoid hiring unauthorized workers and achieve I-9 Compliance:
Now, you can have peace of mind and take yourself out of the equation!
Finally, President Obama gave a highly publicized speech yesterday on his efforts to strengthen borders and create a “pathway to legal status” for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. According to some reports, this speech unleashed protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally. For those of us in the profession of fraud prevention, it is interesting to read two reviews from the political pundits on the liberal and conservative sides to see how they can arrive at completely different viewpoints.
For businesses who thrive on profitability though, there should be an overwhelming consensus.