77 Northern California businesses were required this week to comply with immigration audits of their workforces in what U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has described as “protecting jobs for U.S. citizens” and other lawfully employed individuals.
Businesses received notices of inspection from ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents from Monday through Wednesday, ICE Spokesman James Schwab told Breitbart News. The notices gave each business three days from the date of being served to comply and produce I-9 documents.
Typically HSI takes the documents and conducts the inspection for compliance. While the businesses were not initially identified, they were located within the San Francisco responsibility jurisdiction, including San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose.
Schwab said that HSI has increased enforcement activities to “enforce the laws that prohibit businesses from hiring illegal workers.” ICE Deputy Director Tom Homan has made known plans to increase the level of HSI worksite enforcement actions.
“HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy is focused on protecting jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce and strengthening public safety and national security,” Schwab said via e-mail.
The HSI investigations are ongoing, and any resulting criminal charges or penalties will be coordinated with the Department of Justice.
Employers not in compliance with the law face civil fines. Those employers who have knowingly violated the law face potential criminal prosecution.
HSI conducted 1,360 I-9 audits in fiscal year 2017. Those audits resulted in 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests, according to ICE. Audits also led to judicial forfeiture, fines, and restitution of $97.6 million levied on businesses and $7.8 million in civil fines. One business, Asplundh Tree Experts, Co., was hit with the largest ever ICE case civil payment in U.S. history. The case against Asplundh was conducted over the course of six years.