Category: Immigration and Customs Enforcement


Understanding E-Verify: What is It, What Are Employer’s Obligations, and What Does Your Data Tell the Government

December 20th, 2013 — 9:52am

E-Verify is a free, Web-based program that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their new hires and certain other workers electronically. Operated as a partnership between DHS and the Social Security Administration (SSA), the program is administered by USCIS.  The program was established to reduce unauthorized employment, reduce employment-verification-related discrimination, reduce the burdens on employers, and protect employers from civil and criminal penalties related to claims of hiring unauthorized workers. While the program is mostly voluntary, some employers are required to use the program to ensure their employees are work authorized. Those required to use E-Verify include most federal contractors and subcontractors who enter into or continue contracts with federal executive departments and agencies for all new hires and/or all persons performing services for certain federal contracts. In addition, some states require E-verify for their contractors, and Arizona requires it for all of its employers. There is little doubt that E-Verify will become mandatory for all employers as part of any comprehensive or even piecemeal immigration reform that is enacted in the future. In the meantime, employers considering registering for the program now should understand the requirements that attach to their participation and some of their potential liabilities:

Employers who use E-verify have a number of obligations that commence after an employer registers and signs an electronic E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which explains the terms and conditions. Under the MOU, the employer agrees to: (1) use E-verify only after new hires have accepted employment offers and completed their Form I-9s, Employment Eligibility Verification; (2) use E-Verify within three days of their new hire’s actual start date; (3) use E-Verify  only for new hires, not existing workers, unless otherwise required; (4) use the data obtained on Form I-9 to enter information into the E-Verify system; (5) display federal notices for E-Verify at their workplace; and (6) accept only “List B” identification documents with photographs as part of I-9 procedures.  Employers who use E-Verify also agree to comply with other responsibilities related to record-keeping and response procedures when information provided by the new hire does not match federal records. This includes reviewing “tentative nonconfirmation” (TNC) responses issued by SSA with their employee and reporting back to SSA/DHS with details on resolving the TNC. Participating employers also agree to permit DHS or SSA to make periodic visits to review its E-Verify records and share information with other government agencies.  During those periodic visits, DHS or SSA officials are permitted to interview employees directly. Employers who participate in E-Verify can terminate the program but only after giving 30 days notice.

In early December, E-Verify released new and revised MOUs that bind existing users and new users to changes made to the program. Most of these changes are not substantive but instead appear to reflect improved language and organization, as well as some enhanced privacy protections and instructions for reporting privacy and security breaches. While existing users do not need to execute new MOUs, they are bound by these changes. The effective date for existing users is January 8, 2014.  For new users, the effective date of the revised MOUs is December 8, 2013.

A new feature of E-Verify is that the system now can lock Social Security numbers (SSNs) that appear to have been used fraudulently, like a credit card company can lock a credit card that appears to have been stolen. If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, a TNC will be generated.

As mentioned above, participating employers agree to governmental information sharing. Three years ago, DHS formalized such information sharing and entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the division in DOJ that prosecutes claims of discriminatory hiring practices. Under the agreement, DHS shares with OSC citizenship status and documentation data, which initially was to be used to identify trends that may indicate an employer’s discriminatory practices. However, once the DHS/OSC information sharing program was up and running, OSC began using this data to initiate investigations of employer discrimination, even in the absence of employee complaints.  And, such investigations are on the rise.

With more and more employers enrolling in E-Verify — either because they want greater confidence in the validity of the documents presented by their employees and less risk of fines for making mistakes, or because they are now required to do so — it has become increasingly important for employers to understand all aspects of the program and ensure that their staff are well versed and trained in the program’s requirements. For starters, employers who use E-Verify are strongly encouraged to review and familiarize themselves with the new or revised MOU that applies to them. Employers should also adopt best practices, which include preparing a policy-and-procedure manual for I-9 and E-Verify compliance; providing annual and mandatory training for all individuals who complete the company’s I-9s; and periodically auditing and reviewing the company’s processes to ensure that they are being followed properly.

Comment » | Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Worksite enforcement policies

Think Massive Deportation is Keeping America Safe? Think Again.

November 5th, 2013 — 6:02pm

In response to the horrifying September 11 attacks, the U.S.Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whose purpose is to help protect the nation from terrorism and other potential hazards. But the relentless deportation of nonviolent immigrants has some accusing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a division of DHS —of ripping apart families across America.

America has a broken immigration system — that’s no secret. But the absence of serious reform has effects that extend far beyond hard-to-get visas and bumpy paths to citizenship. Take the following into consideration:

  • Over the past two years, 180,897 parents of U.S. citizens have been deported.
  • 5,100 children have been placed in foster care because their parents were deported.
  • 429,247 foreign nationals are detained in immigration jails each year.

And why? We’re told it’s for our protection. But if the deported are nonviolent, noncriminal offenders, why is ICE so insistent on tearing apart their families?

To combat this problem, ICE issued new guidelines designed to ensure that immigration officers would prioritize enforcement — seeking to detain individuals who pose a threat to public safety or national security before detaining immigrants with no criminal background. But a new report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) calls into question whether or not officers are actually changing their behavior. According to the government’s own data, detainers were placed on fewer individuals with criminal convictions since ICE issued its new guidelines.

Unfortunately, TRAC’s report makes one fact crystal clear: ICE has failed to adequately address their problematic policies. And until they do, immigrant families and communities will continue to pay a hefty price.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law.  We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Comment » | Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Immigration reform

USCIS Releases New Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9

March 8th, 2013 — 3:50pm

On March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the official, newly revised Form I-9.

Employers are required to use the Form I-9 to verify the identity and the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees hired after November 1986.

What is Different in the new I-9?

USCIS has finalized the new form with the following major changes:

  • New data fields, including employee’s foreign passport information, telephone and email address;
  • Clarifying the form’s instructions; and
  • Revising the layout of the form and expanding it from one to two pages.

Form I-9 Revision Date

The new, revised Form I-9 will contain a revision date of “(Rev. 03/08/13)N.”  Employers should begin using this new form immediately.

Employers will have a 60-day grace period, until May 7, 2013, to comply by using the new form.  After May 7, 2013, employers who fail to use this new form may be subject to penalties imposed under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.  These provisions, as usual, would be enforced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The M-274 Handbook for Employers is in the process of being updated as well by USCIS in order to correspond to the new Form I-9.  Employers are advised by USCIS to follow instructions on the new Form I-9 until the revised M-274 Handbook for Employers has been updated.

Click here to access the USCIS I-9 website for the I-9 announcement.

Click here to access a downloadable copy of the new I-9

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify, I-9, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Worksite enforcement policies

U.S. Spends More on Immigration Enforcement than the Combined Funds of All Other Federal Criminal Law Enforcement Agencies

February 23rd, 2013 — 2:37pm

In a January 2013 report, the nonpartisan think-tank Migration Policy Institute (MPI) found that the U.S. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principal federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined, with nearly $18 billion spent in fiscal year 2012.  This is approximately 24 percent higher than the collective spending for the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. MPI also found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refer more cases for federal prosecution than all Justice Department law enforcement agencies.

MPI’s comprehensive report offers a detailed analysis of the current immigration enforcement system and traces the evolution of the system, particularly in the post-9/11 era, in terms of budgets, personnel, enforcement actions, and technology. The result is the creation of a complex, interconnected, cross-agency system – in some ways by deliberate design; in others, by happenstance.

Six distinct pillars identify how this modern-day system is organized: border enforcement, visa controls and travel screening, information and interoperability of data systems, workplace enforcement, the intersection of the criminal justice system and immigration enforcement, and detention and removal of noncitizens. “This modern-day system,” says its authors, “extends well beyond U.S. borders to screen visitors against multiple intelligence and law enforcement databases before they arrive and also reaches into local communities across the country via partnerships with state and local law enforcement, information sharing and other initiatives.”

The following are among the report’s key findings:

  • deportations have reached record highs, with more than 4 million noncitizens deported since 1990, with removals rising from over 30,000 in FY 1990 to almost 400,000 in FY 2011.
  • fewer than half of the noncitizens deported are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge; instead the majority are by DHS via its administrative authority.
  • apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border fell to 40-year lows in 2011.
  • immigration enforcement has evolved to be a key tool in the nation’s counterterrorism strategies.

For the last many years, “enforcement first” was sought by successive congresses and administrations as a precondition for reforming the nation’s immigration laws.  The report makes clear that changes to the system accomplished this goal, having focused almost entirely on building enforcement programs and improving their performance. The findings pave the way for comprehensive immigration reform, given that the country’s enforcement priorities have been met.

Comment » | Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration Laws: Federal vs. State

August 13th, 2012 — 10:37am

With the upcoming 2012 presidential election, voters are honing in on several key issues. Even a brief glance across the headlines of America’s newspapers shows that immigration is without a doubt one of the main topics. Immigration to the U.S. has been a consistently widespread trend since around 1820, and the intense debates regarding the issue are now coming to a pinnacle with the coming election.

One of the central conflicts plaguing the nation’s mutable immigration policy is the clash between federal and local governments over what kind of action to take. A program known as Secure Communities was introduced by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (or ICE) in 2008. The program called for the arrest of all crime-causing illegal immigrants, regardless of the crime’s scope. This detainer extends the person’s holding time in jail by up to 48 hours, allowing custody to be transferred to ICE where they can initiate the deportation process.

Federal proponents of the bill, like ICE director John Morton and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, are now seeing that the major flaw of Secure Communities lies in its dependence on the cooperation from state and local authorities. This has been a particular source of trouble in Cook County, Illinois. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel informed the media in a press conference last month that he does not wish for the city’s police force to follow the Secure Communities guidelines, a sentiment echoed by many of the county’s officials.

Especially in the wake of Arizona’s notorious blitz on illegal immigrants two years ago in the form of Senate Bill 1070, local governments all over the country are retaliating against the stringent new measures. In addition to Cook County’s move, which has pervaded the news since Emmanuel’s July 9th announcement, places like San Francisco, Santa Clara County, Washington D.C., and Taos, New Mexico have refused to accept federal measures, even establishing decrees against jails allowing detainers for minor crimes in some cases.

Inevitably, White House officials have responded in kind with vows to try and make dissenting governments comply with Secure Communities. Admittedly, their accomplishments have not been small so far. The Obama administration has already racked up over 1.2 million deportations, 200,000 of them under the provisions of the 2008 act and boosted the deportation rate of criminal illegals by almost 90% in three years. The act now encompasses 3,000 localities and is expected to achieve national compliance next year.

Still, resistance continues to grow as well. California – a state that contends more than any other with immigration problems – approved a senatorial bill prohibiting detainers statewide, prompting Supreme Court debates over the legality of such unilateral policy decisions. As the most heavily-populated state in the country and certainly one of the bluest, California’s opposition to the federal mandate is sure, as TIME writer Adam Sorensen says, to put them “on a collision course with the Obama Administration.” <http://swampland.time.com/2012/07/16/obamas-next-immigration-battle-local-federal-authorities-on-collision-course-over-detention-requests/?iid=sl-main-mostpop1>

Luckily, these rigorous measures by the federal government will not directly affect legal maneuvers, like business immigration, which allow desirable workers from foreign countries to come into the United States and be allowed to work in various fields on temporary or permanent bases. At the same time, though, the Obama administration must ask itself how acts like Secure Communities will affect the U.S.’s international relations; after all, it may seem a tad unwelcoming for a country that was largely built by immigrants to take such a tough stance on the practice.

For information, education, and help regarding immigration law, visit ZulkiePartners.com, one of America’s top business immigration law firms.

Comment » | Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Immigration reform

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