ICE Immigration Raids Continue
By James Root
Los Angeles, CA

On 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 immigration.”
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 employment.
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). www.RootLaw.com)


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