USCIS Announces Increased Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives, Including Issuance of 1,000 Additional Notices of Inspection

At a symposium in Washington, D.C., US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that today (November 19, 2009), an additional 1,000 Notices of Inspection (NOI) will be issued. This is a significant move and reveals the administration's intent to increase enforcement actions against employers that engage in the unlawful hiring of undocumented workers. This year alone, Immigration Customs and Enforcement has issued 1,044 NOIs, which is three times as many NOIs than were issued in 2008. Adding another 1,000 NOIs drastically increases this statistic. To further illustrate the administration's aggressive pursuit of employers, Notices of Fines totaling $24 million have been issued in 2009, compared with $2.4 million in 2008. Also, during 2009, 100 companies and individuals have been barred from doing business with the federal government, whereas only one company was barred last year.

Other highlights of today’s symposium, titled “Government and Employers: Working Together to Ensure a Legal Workforce,” include:

  • USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced the opening of a new facility in Buffalo, NY, where 135 employees will monitor E-Verify activity. As part of this culture of responsible corporate citizenship, a "self check" system by which individuals may check their own status is in the early stages of development.
  • The administration's move to go after violators and increase its civil and criminal penalty activity will be augmented with a public affairs strategy aimed at working closely with employers. In this regard, the administration will implement an "I E-Verify" campaign, which will communicate to consumers that a company is enrolled in E-Verify and is complying with immigration laws.
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano asserted that employers will be given the tools to maintain legal workforces and that "E-Verify and IMAGE will be a big part of that landscape." Secretary Napolitano pointed to E-Verify “as a tool for the future,” noting that: 169,000 employers are now enrolled; 2,000 per week enrolled last month alone; and 1.6 million queries already have been run through the system in FY2010 which commenced on October 1, 2009 (whereas 8.5 million queries were run in FY2009).
  • With respect to the E-Verify program, USCIS confirmed that it currently has 18,000 federal contractor companies, 9,000 of which have enrolled in E-Verify because of a Federal Acquisition Regulation contract clause. Also, USCIS has improved the E-Verify system's error rate and reported that 96.9% of inquires confirm work authorization immediately or within 24 hours; 2.8% of inquiries are not confirmed as work authorized; and 0.3% of inquires involve an initial mismatch that is later resolved as work authorized. The mismatch rate on naturalized citizens has decreased by 40%. Further improvements to the E-Verify system will be rolled out in December 2009, including: the ability to check real-time arrival dates if transposed on I-94 cards; a European date format identifier; and a photo comparison feature that will draw on information held separately by USCIS and the Department of State. In spring 2010, USCIS expects to introduce a function to E-Verify that will check company information against third party data to identify fraudulent activity.

This entry was written by Ian Macdonald.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.