A total of 77 Northern California businesses in San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento were served with notices of inspection by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents this week.
The businesses were each served with I-9 audit notices, according to ICE spokesman James Schwab. After the notices were served, people at many of the businesses quit their jobs.
Mariela Garcia, the community organizer at Sacred Heart Community Services, said, "It’s put people in a lot of panics. We have people who are quitting their jobs.
The notice of inspection alerts a business owner that Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE, is going to audit their hiring records. The audit will determine if the business is in compliance with the law or hiring illegal immigrants.
After the inspection is conducted, the businesses have three days to produce their I-9's or face penalties. If a business is found to have not complied with the law then they could be subject to criminal charges or fines.
The action is in line with ICE Deputy Director Tom Homan's statement when he directed HSI to crack down on worksite enforcement.
"The actions taken this week reflect HSI’s stepped-up efforts to enforce the laws that prohibit businesses from hiring illegal workers," Schwab said.
"HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy is focused on protecting jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthening public safety and national security."
The immigration debate has called into question the effectiveness of E-verify, a 21-year-old electronic measure for filtering out undocumented immigrants applying for jobs.
Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity said in a January interview a "large portion" of employers don't use E-verify for new hires.
The system allows several loopholes such as submitting traditional paper forms instead of electronic ones because businesses have figured out government rarely audits paper forms, according to Nowrastech.
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