August 21, 2018
On July 31, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Labor (DOL) signed an agreement that sets guidelines for inter-agency collaboration to combat suspected employer non-compliance with immigration laws. The agencies have agreed to share resources, including records, and education and training where necessary, and refer cases to one another when an agency learns of employer non-compliance.
The DOJ and the DOL play important roles in employment-based immigration compliance. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division prosecutes violations of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that aims, in part, to prevent employers from hiring temporary foreign workers instead of qualified U.S. workers. The DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s purpose is to ensure proper wage and working conditions for U.S. and foreign workers in the U.S. This purpose is accomplished by requiring employers to first apply to the DOL for an approval or certification before proceeding with an immigration petition, demonstrating that a foreign worker will be paid a fair wage and that hiring a foreign worker will not displace a U.S. worker.
While this agreement is not an update to existing law, it does highlight the recent increase in overall immigration enforcement actions. Similar agreements were reached by the DOJ and the Department of State, and the DOJ and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to combat visa fraud and abuse in 2017. Additionally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued more than 5,200 I-9 audit notices to businesses throughout the U.S. since January 2018, and ICE issued an additional 2,738 I-9 audit notices and made 32 arrests from July 16 to July 20, 2018. These collaborations confirm immigration enforcement is a government priority. Accordingly, employers are well-advised to take inventory of policies and procedures to ensure their hiring and record-keeping practices are in line with applicable statutes and regulations.