By James Root
Los Angeles, CA
December 12, ICE agents executed civil search warrants
at six facilities owned by Swift & Company,
one of the nation’s largest meat packing facilities.
ICE agents executed warrants at Swift facilities
in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota.
According to a press release issued by ICE on December
13, agents arrested 1,282 undocumented immigrant
workers as part of an ongoing worksite enforcement
investigation into immigration violations and a
massive identity theft scheme that has victimized
large numbers of US citizens and lawful US residents.
Countries of origin of those arrested were: Mexico,
Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Peru, Laos, Sudan
and Ethiopia. 65 were charged with criminal violations
such as identity theft, re-entry after deportation,
and other violations. ICE did not bring charges
against Swift officials during the raids. “Violations
of our immigration laws and privacy rights often
go hand in hand,” said Homeland Security Secretary
Michael Chertoff. “Enforcement actions like
this one protect the privacy rights of innocent
Americans while striking a blow against illegal
ICE stated that those workers arrested only for
administrative immigration violations are being
detained pending removal proceedings. Those charged
with criminal violations will be remanded to the
custody of the US Marshal Service pending criminal
court proceedings before a federal judge.
The raids were conducted as part of a worksite enforcement
investigation, Operation Wagon Trail, begun in February
2006, that uncovered a large identify theft scheme
providing fraudulent social security numbers to
large numbers of unauthorized workers at Swift facilities.
This investigation is viewed by many immigration
advocates as a troubling shift in ICE's tactics,
from a strategy focused on worksite enforcement
to a new emphasis on identity theft. Advocates fear
that the agency's new focus on identity theft may
serve to further stigmatize and criminalize undocumented
immigrants while obscuring the underlying problems
in our immigration system that fuel identity fraud
and unauthorized employment.
These ongoing investigations are a collaborative
effort between ICE, FTC and the Social Security
Administration. Given that we are seeing more and
more of this activity, we advise all employers to
adhere to the regulation set forth in the Immigration
reform and Control Act and particularly the documents
verification and record keeping requirements. The
following steps can be taken to help comply with
immigration legislation and to minimize the impact
of immigration enforcement efforts against employers.
Here’s what you can do to protect your company:
Do an internal I-9 audit now. Don't wait for ICE
to send you an audit letter. Compare your payroll
with your I-9 forms and make sure that you have
an I-9 Form for all employees. Make sure that they
all have been filled out correctly and completely.
Centralize the I-9 process. Train 1 or 2 employees
in the technical process of filling out I-9 forms.
Then have them always be in charge of completing
the I-9's, instead of random supervisors, who may
or may not be familiar with the process.
Do not put the I-9's in the employee's personnel
file. Keep the I-9 forms in a separate file. You
don't want to have to turn over your employee's
personnel files to Immigration, since they contain
privileged information. (You can put a copy of the
I-9 in the employee's personnel file, if you want,
but keep the originals separate)
Always examine the original documents - Not Copies.
It is critical that you examine the original document,
"green card", driver’s license or
social security card, not a copy.
Copy the front and back of all documents that were
examined, and attach to the I-9. Although employers
are not legally required to make a photocopy of
the documents that they examined, doing so, demonstrates
the employer's good faith, and if questioned, the
employer can point to what documents they relied
upon, even if they ultimately prove to be fraudulent.
Establish a written policy that fraud in the employment
application process will be grounds for termination.
By doing so, the employer will clearly have the
right to terminate an employee if it later discovers
that he submitted fraudulent documents to obtain
If you receive a social security mismatch letter,
contact your attorney first, before responding.
The Social Security Administration is sending thousands
of Social Security Mismatch Letters to Employers,
informing them that there is a "mismatch"
in the names and social security numbers of some
of the employer's employees. There may be serious
legal consequences for the employer in this regard.
Therefore, immediately contact experienced legal
counsel before responding.
It is also advisable to contact an outside agency
to have an independent I-9 Employment Verification
audit conducted to ensure the I-9 Employment Verification
forms are being completed correctly and the document
checklist is being maintained.
(Root Law Group is an exclusive Immigration Law
firm that specializes in assisting non United States
citizens in obtaining lawful status in the United
States. The firm handles cases in all areas of immigration
and nationality law. Phone: 1- (888)-Root-Law (766-8529).