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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Stanford Law School Worksite Immigration Compliance Symposium

STANFORD, CA –Stanford Law School held its first annual Worksite Immigration Compliance Symposium, a one-day event focusing on corporate immigration compliance, hosted by the Stanford Law School Rock Center for Corporate Governance.

Featuring experts from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, lawyers from private practice and academia, the symposium covered recent trends in I-9 related worksite enforcement, various government programs (including E-Verify) and emerging best practices from the field.

Symposium attendees received a copy of the ABA’s Immigration Compliance Auditing for Attorneys . This book provides authoritative, step-by-step guidance for conducting immigration compliance audits under the Department of Homeland Security regulations and related employment laws. Charles M. Miller, Marcine A. Seid and S. Christopher Stowe, Jr., the distinguished authors of this ABA best-seller, served as moderators for several of the panels. Remediation is the crux of the Immigration Compliance Audit – it allows mitigation and preserves good faith. The remediation steps outlined Immigration Compliance Auditing for Attorneys include how to deal with missing I-9s, timeliness violations, knowingly hired/continuing to employ violations, and paperwork errors.

Paul Virtue, the former INS General Counsel, responsible for the "Virtue Memorandum" concerning the treatment of I-9s in the workplace, was the Symposium's keynote speaker.

Tina Sciocchetti, Assistant US Attorney in the Northern District of Albany discussed the corporate charging factors for employers with criminal I-9 violations. In particular, the prosecutor must weigh all of the factors normally considered in the sound exercise of prosecutorial judgment: the sufficiency of the evidence; the likelihood of success at trial; the probable deterrent, rehabilitative, and other consequences of conviction; and the adequacy of noncriminal approaches. Prosecutors will also consider the nature and seriousness of the crime, pervasiveness, company history, existence of compliance programs, remedial actions, collateral consequences, and the adequacy of civil or regulatory remedies.

SLS Associate Dean and Rock Center Faculty Director, Dan Siciliano spoke on corporate immigration compliance in a Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank World. As part of his presentation Dean Siciliano demonstrated how corporate awareness of I-9 compliance issues could be compared to studies of the observation of extrinsic factors, illustrated by this the Invisible gorilla video.

The Symposium speakers discussed recent enforcement actions where thousands of large high-profile publicly traded companies and hundreds of other companies have recently undergone extensive, and often expensive, scrutiny at the hands of the Department of Homeland Security. Recent headlines are testament to the increasing impact of administrative sanctions leveled against those employers that err in the process of preparing and maintaining I-9s (the document companies must complete to establish and evidence that employees are eligible to work in the U.S.). In addition to expanded record keeping audits, the ICE Worksite Enforcement Program has increasingly focused on employers that have knowingly hired unauthorized workers using ICE inspections that generate civil and criminal penalties for thousands of noncompliant companies.