ICE strikes again! A California food manufacturer’s I-9s were audited by ICE and the company was found to have employed several dozen unauthorized employees in addition to lacking corporate immigration compliance plans, policies, and procedures. Mary’s Gone Crackers, a gluten free food manufacturer, ended up signing a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney to avoid criminal liability for its corporate immigration violations.
The non-prosecution agreement stated that Mary’s Gone Crackers would agree to pay $1.5 million in fines and establish an corporate immigration compliance program. We've seen ICE force employers to spend $500,000 setting up proper immigration compliance. The company’s program requires the use of E-Verify, Social Security Number Verification Service, I-9 Audits, and other items on the list of ICE Best Practices. Mary’s Gone Crackers will also be required to report their ongoing compliance to the U.S. Attorney’s office for at least the next two years, which means constant government oversight. In our practice, it is significantly cheaper to be proactive and establish immigration compliance plans, policies and procedures before ICE shows up.
Is this ICE’s new enforcement strategy?
The result of Mary’s Gone Crackers is becoming less common. While they can still threaten and ask for criminal prosecution of employers, ICE is also interested in penalizing employers through fines, forfeiture, and ordering compliance measures to be taken!
This case closely parallels some other recent ICE Worksite Enforcement cases from 2015, such as Grand America Hotel, where the employer paid a fine of $2 million and agreed to spend $500,000 on immigration compliance in exchange for a non-prosecution agreement, and Broetje Orchards, where the company paid 2.25 million to avoid criminal liability.
Be proactive. Put your company in compliance before ICE comes to audit!
Through these cases, ICE is reminding employers that in order to avoid both the fines and possible criminal punishment, employers must have a correctly completed I-9 on each employee and corporate immigration compliance plans, policies,
and procedures in place. The best way to put your company in compliance is to begin training an Immigration Compliance Officer so that the company has at least one person informed and implementing immigration plans, policies, and procedures for the company.
I-9Seminars offers comprehensive I-9 administration training, in-person or via webinar as well as training for Immigration Compliance Officers which includes complete plans, policies, and procedures ready to be implemented to ensure your company is protected.
Danielle Atchison, Business Immigration Attorney MDIVANI CORPORATE IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM 7007 College Blvd., # 460, Overland Park, KS 66211 USA Phone :: 913.317.6200 Email ::DAtchison@uslegalimmigration.com