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Worksite Enforcement
01/19/2012

Dayton-area restaurant fined after I-9 audit

Dayton, Ohio – Following an investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Germantown Police Department, a Dayton-area restaurant has been fined more than $20,000 for failing to comply with employment eligibility verification requirements.

ICE HSI conducted an I-9 inspection of El Rancho Grande in Germantown, Ohio, after receiving information from the Germantown Police Department which revealed the company had allegedly employed illegal aliens.

The audit revealed violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and severe deficiencies with the company's employment records. In July 2011, ICE HSI issued a Notice of Intent to Fine. El Rancho Grande reached a fine settlement with ICE HSI in December for the amount of $21,692.

"These settlements serve as a reminder to employers that HSI will continue to hold them accountable for hiring and maintaining a legal and compliant workforce," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Ohio and Michigan. "We encourage companies to take the employment verification process seriously."

As part of the settlement, the company has taken measures to revise its immigration compliance program, and has agreed to begin implementing new procedures to prevent future violations of federal immigration laws.

The increased emphasis on inspections of employers' I-9 documents are part of the ICE HSI revised worksite enforcement strategy, launched in 2009, to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce, by focusing additional resources on the auditing of employer's I-9s.

Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual's identity and employment eligibility document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual. Additionally, an employer must ensure that the employee provides certain information regarding his or her eligibility to work on the Form I-9.

To ensure employment compliance, employers can elect to participate in a proactive ICE program that provides a mechanism for employers to verify the employment eligibility of their new hires.

ICE initiated the IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) program in 2006. All IMAGE members agree to participate in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. Through this program, employers can verify that newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. This Internet-based system is available throughout the nation and is free to employers.

Upon enrollment in and commitment to the IMAGE program, participants are deemed "IMAGE certified," a distinction DHS and ICE believe will become an industry standard. IMAGE also provides to all employers free training on the Form I-9, fraudulent document detection, and IMAGE's suggested Best Employment Practices in building a solid immigration compliance model.

Learn more about the IMAGE program.