Fines Are Increased For Employers Who Hire Undocumented Immigrants

Employers who unlawfully give jobs to undocumented immigrants will face increased fines under a new rule published by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The DoJ published a rule on June 30 that entails stiffer penalties for companies and individuals who unlawfully employ immigrants, as well as unfair employment practices linked to immigration. New fines for “so-called paperwork violations” for I-9 forms become effective on August 1.

Fines are increasing for unlawfully employing immigrants

Under the interim final rule as published in the Federal Register, the lowest penalty the DOJ can impose for the unlawful employment of immigrants would increase from $375 to $539. The maximum fine has increased from $3,200 to $4,313.

The DOJ rule will mean the maximum fine for “paperwork violations” related to I-9 forms will increase from a maximum of $1,100 to $2,156. The minimum penalty for each of these violations increases from $110 to $216.
If an employer receives three or more orders for violating the rules about unlawfully employing immigrants he or she faces a new maximum penalty of $21,563.

There are also increased fines for unfair immigration-related practices. Under the new rules, a first order related to discrimination against immigrants will increase from a maximum of $3,200 per person discriminated against to $3,563. The minimum penalty will go up from $375 to $445.

Fox News reported that the increased penalties have been welcomed by many small businesses which frequently lose business to bigger corporations that they claim hire illegal immigrants to work in fields such as laborers or as farmers.

Companies that hire undocumented immigrants can face stiff penalties. Earlier this year, the owners of a tortilla factory in Houston were arrested and hit with federal charges of hiring illegal immigrants to work in their facility.

Federal agents arrested the husband and wife owners of La Espiga de Oro tortilla factory, alleging that they “knowingly and repeatedly” hired immigrants who did not have the documentation to legally work in the United States.

The new hikes in fines do not include “harboring” of illegal immigrants or the employment of 10 or more undocumented immigrants at one time, offenses that can lead to sentences of up to 10 years in jail.

Before the mid-1980s, employers who hired undocumented workers faced few sanctions. Since 1986, employers have been under a duty to verify the immigrant status of all workers.

Who is Entitled to Work in the United States?

If you are considering new hires, it’s important to make sure they fit into one of these four classes of legal workers:

  • U.S. citizens
  • Noncitizen nationals
  • Green card holders, and
  • Aliens who are authorized to work.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services outlines exactly what documents you need to establish authorization to work in the United States on Form I-9.

Our Austin, Texas lawyers specialize in immigration cases, and can help you if you are experiencing difficulties about hiring or if you have been accused of hiring undocumented immigrants. Call us for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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