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Saturday, December 31, 2011

AILA Midyear Conference Focuses on Worksite Enforcement as I-9 and E-Verify Issues Continue to Heat Up the Headlines

by Marcine Seid, Guest Blogger

AILA’s 2012 Midyear Conference traditionally brings together the leadership of the Immigration Bar to provide intensive focus on national issues that affect our clients. This year’s conference will analyze worksite enforcement practice issues and the surrounding politics that will increasingly affect US employers.

How Hot is the Worksite Enforcement Issue?

During the past few years, we have seen unprecedented enforcement and legislative activity relating to Form I-9 and E-Verify worksite compliance. Since fiscal year 2009, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has audited more than 6,000 employers, debarred 441 companies and individuals, and imposed more than $76 million in financial sanctions. Meanwhile, states and cities across the country have been mandating the use of E-Verify at the local level, sometimes implementing rules which go above and beyond federal I-9 requirements. The result has been a virtual patchwork of employment verification requirements which are difficult to track, let alone maintain.

Below are just a few of the hot topics which we’ll be discussing at the AILA Midyear conference

  • Judiciary Marks Up Mandatory E-Verify Bill - Chairman Lamar Smith of the House Judiciary Committee has pushed his mandatory E-Verify bill through Committee markup. Individuals who start work will be subject to mandatory E-Verify processing and a potential final nonconfirmation without the ability to correct errors in the DHS/SSA databases before termination of employment. The bill also contains a provision that would make the misappropriation of a Social Security number a felony.

  • Silent Raids Continue - In fiscal year 2011 ICE conducted 5 times as many I-9 audits than it did in fiscal year 2008. Josie Gonzalez will lead a panel examining problematic I-9 issues facing employers and will provide effective resolution strategies.

  • ICE Carrot and Stick Approach - ICE is inviting “express” membership in the IMAGE program, with the possibility of an individual agreement that may allow the mitigation or waiver of even substantive I-9 errors if there is less than a 50% error rate after a voluntary Form I-9 inspection. At the same time, however, ICE is aggregating penalties against employers who are first time violators after issuance of a Notice of Inspection (NOI).

  • The Employer Compliance Inspection Center (ECIC) – ICE has continued to grow its auditor workforce which in turn has lead to increased I-9 audits and worksite investigations of large employers across the nation.

  • Pre-NOI Remediation as an Effective Compliance Strategy - ICE has made it abundantly clear that the agency will look favorably upon I-9 corrections made before the issuance of an NOI. Charles M. Miller will discuss how attorneys can successfully conduct an immigration compliance audit before ICE comes knocking at the door using innovative and detailed audit tools.

  • The Burrito Effect – Case Studies of Chipotle, IFCO, and American Apparel at the Intersection of SEC and Immigration Law – Dan Siciliano of Stanford Law School will discuss a new kind of I-9 liability that has arisen from the increasing fiduciary, legal, and ethical oversight responsibilities of publicly traded companies.

  • Constructive Knowledge in Today’s World – Kathleen Campbell Walker will lead a discussion of recent case law and policy developments which give new meaning to constructive knowledge and reckless disregard. The 2012 AILA Midyear Conference is a must-attend event for attorneys representing clients in today’s new worksite enforcement regime. Don’t miss this exciting and topical opportunity to interact with a host of experts on worksite enforcement, I-9, and E-Verify issues. This is your chance to learn and engage with the immigration leaders in our community as they share their invaluable knowledge on how to survive the worksite enforcement jungle.