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Worksite Enforcement

Fact Sheet
April 1, 2013

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) enforces the law and engages in effective worksite enforcement. This reduces the demand for illegal employment and protects employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce.

On April 30, 2009, ICE HSI rolled out a revised worksite enforcement strategy. The strategy prioritizes the use of criminal prosecutions against employers that:

  • Utilize unauthorized workers as a business model
  • Mistreat their workers
  • Engage in human smuggling or trafficking
  • Engage in identity and benefit fraud
  • Launder money
  • Participate in other criminal conduct

Investigations involving national security, public safety or those associated with our critical infrastructure and key resources sectors receive top priority. While HSI continues to prioritize criminal investigations, it now places increased emphasis on compliance and outreach. HSI utilizes all available civil and administrative tools, including Form I-9 inspections, civil fines and debarment. HSI also actively promotes the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) outreach program. IMAGE is a voluntary partnership between the government and the private sector, whereby employers receive invaluable training and are provided with additional tools to strengthen the integrity of their workforce and curtail the employment of unauthorized workers.

HSI believes utilizing enforcement, compliance and outreach is an effective approach to deter illegal employment and create a culture of compliance.

Fiscal Year 2013 Accomplishments

  • ICE made 452 criminal arrests tied to worksite enforcement investigations.
  • Of the individuals criminally arrested, 179 were owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees. They face charges such as harboring or knowingly hiring illegal aliens. The remaining workers who were criminally arrested face charges such as aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud.
  • ICE served 3,127 Notices of Inspection and 637 Final Orders, totaling $15,808,365.00 in administrative fines.
  • ICE debarred 277 business and individuals for administrative and criminal violations.
  • ICE conducted 2,204 IMAGE outreach presentations to 14,772 employers.

Why is worksite enforcement important?

Employment is a primary driving force behind illegal immigration. Many individuals that enter the United States illegally rely on a network of criminal organizations to obtain employment. These organizations are frequently engaged in smuggling ventures, as well as identity and benefit fraud. HSI is committed to targeting these organizations, protecting the nation's critical infrastructure and key resources sectors, and safeguarding employment opportunities for authorized workers.

What's the harm of illegal aliens working in the United States?

Illegal aliens often turn to criminal activity, including document fraud, Social Security fraud or identify theft to obtain employment. It can take years for identity theft victims to repair the damage.

How do businesses and communities suffer?

Responsible employers who conduct their business lawfully are put at an unfair disadvantage when they try to compete with unscrupulous businesses. The unscrupulous businesses may gain a competitive edge by not paying their unauthorized workers prevailing wages and benefits.

How does HSI determine which employers to investigate?

Investigations are based on leads and tips obtained from a variety of sources.

What types of industries does HSI target?

HSI prioritizes investigations involving critical infrastructure and key resources. However, no industry, regardless of size, type or location is exempt from complying with the law or being the subject of an HSI investigation.