ICE Director Issues Statement on Immigration Activity: Worksite Enforcement at an All Time High

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John Morton, Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before the judiciary committee on immigration policy and enforcement made the following statements. “Enforcing our immigration priorities and obligations is neither simple nor easy, and we are committed to getting it right. We all agree that we need fair, consistent, and enforceable immigration laws that encourage the free flow of commerce while respecting both security and the rights of individuals. We are committed to making changes within the immigration system that make sense and are achievable. While we are committed to being smart and tough with our enforcement, it remains the Administration’s position that Congress needs to take up immigration reform. We look forward to working with Congress to this end.”

The strategy followed by ICE to counter illegal immigration has been the following:

(1) Penalize employers who hire illegal workers;

(2) Deter employers who are tempted to hire illegal workers; and

(3) Encourage all employers to take advantage of easy to use and well-crafted compliance tools.

According to statistics quoted by John Morton in his statement, as of September 17, 2011, ICE has initiated 3,015 investigations, which is 154 percent more than in all of FY 2008. In FY 2010, ICE arrested 196 employers for criminal worksite-related immigration violations, surpassing the previous high of 135 arrests in FY 2008. So far in FY 2011, ICE has also issued a record 2,393 notices of inspection, a more than a 375 percent increase from the number issued in all of FY 2008. This year, ICE has issued 331 final orders totaling $9 million in fines levied on employers compared to 18 final orders issued totaling $675,000 in FY 2008. In addition, FY 2010 worksite investigations resulted in a record $36.6 million in judicial fines, forfeitures, and restitutions.

As part of its immigration enforcement efforts, ICE has been pursuing a comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy to deter unlawful employment and drive a culture of compliance with the nation’s immigration-related employment laws. The Administration is focused on conducting criminal investigations and prosecuting employers who exploit or abuse their employees and those who have a history of knowingly and repeatedly employing an illegal workforce.

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