Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stanford Professor estimates $104 billion in unlevied immigration employment penalties

Sponsored by the Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford Law School presented its Second Annual Worksite Immigration Compliance Symposium on April 20, 2012.  In only its second year, the Stanford Symposium has become the nation’s premiere immigration compliance venue, attracting key decision makers from government, academia and private industry.

In the opening address by Stanford Law Professor F. Dan Siciliano, he calculated that based on the fact that the average US worker has 1.2 jobs, that the amount of contingent immigration penalty liability on the books of US employers is at least $104 billion, not including criminal fines.

The 2012 edition of the Symposium featured a keynote address from John Morton, the Director of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  In a rare public appearance, Director Morton told the audience that ICE was prepared to use a “carrot and stick approach” to compliance.  Encouraging employers to join ICE’s IMAGE program a voluntary program with rigorous best practices that include an annual private audit, a one-time governmental inspection and membership in the E-Verify electronic database verification system.  Responding to a question from the Symposium’s Co-Director Charles M. Miller,   Director Morton indicated that he was receptive to open a dialogue as to whether ICE would allow a private immigration compliance audit conducted by outside independent counsel to serve as the threshold best practice in lieu of an ICE inspection conducted by government auditors.

Symposium Co-Director Marcine Seid, co-author of the American Bar Association’s best-selling book Immigration Compliance Auditing for Lawyers, hosted a panel which included a rare appearance by Judge Ellen K. Thomas, the lone OCAHO administrative law judge sitting on INA 274A civil administrative employer sanctions cases.  Judge Thomas  explained that she used discretion,  allowed under the federal statute to temper the fines levied against US employers  by ICE special agents in cases where there are no knowing hire or continuing to employ violations and the ICE penalty would cause the employer financial hardship.  Judge Thomas’ decisions  accept the governmental policy that gives credit for remediation of technical and procedural paperwork violations prior to the beginning of an ICE audit.

Another featured speaker Randel K. Johnson, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a long-time Beltway insider,  predicted that mandatory E-Verify electronic employment verification would eventually pass Congress with an agricultural jobs compromise amendment.