Yes, you read that correctly. Paperwork errors, not just paperwork fraud. A recent report in the Houston Chronicle revealed that about half of the companies fined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were fined for problems with hiring paperwork rather than actually hiring illegal workers.
The Houston Chronicle obtained records of 800 closed audits done by ICE between October 2010 and November 2011. (The agency has opened thousands more audits, but most of those cases are still open or pending.)
The records shows that the 800 audits resulted in 117 companies being fined for a total of $1.8 million in fines. Of that amount, an estimated $600,000 in fines were levied on companies that had no workers with “suspect documents.”
While a small business owner near Houston characterized the fines as a “money grab,” the agency insists they’re part of an overall “deterrent strategy” to keep employers from hiring illegal immigrants, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
“Much like the IRS uses audits as a deterrent strategy to prevent people from falsifying tax records, part of our strategy in conducting audits is to encourage businesses to comply with the law,” said Danielle Bennett, an ICE spokeswoman.
Regardless of the intention behind the audits, they’re no joke. Because staffing firms process so much paperwork, we could be potential targets in these audits. So be sure to have every worker properly documented, registered and verified, and have a proper document retention policy in place, too.
What are your thoughts on the ICE audits? Are you ready for one? Let us know in the comments!