ICE fines San Diego-area companies for hiring unlawful employees
 worksite enforcement strategy holds employers accountable for violations

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As part its enforcement strategy to reduce illegal employment and protect job opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday that 10 employers in San Diego and Imperial counties were fined by ICE during fiscal year 2012 for various employment-related violations.

Collectively, the fines totalled more than $173,800, with the largest fine, $50,000, being lodged against a San Diego-area medical transportation service. The fines were imposed after ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) found the businesses had failed to comply with laws prohibiting the hiring of unauthorized workers.

One of the ways HSI identifies potential hiring violations is by auditing employers’ Form I-9s, the document businesses use to verify an employee’s eligibility to work. Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire. In fiscal year 2012, HSI conducted 151 worksite audits in San Diego and Imperial counties, compared to 86 audits the previous year and 63 audits in fiscal year 2010.

“Employers who build their business model upon an illegal workforce will be held accountable,” said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. “We encourage employers to take the employee verification process seriously. Employers must understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files or banking records.”

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