ImmigrationNew government move to crackdown on undocumented workers

Published 24 January 2011

The Obama administration creates new unit to target major companies hiring undocumented workers; the new unit, composed of fifteen auditors, will work under the supervision of ICE; in 2010, ICE conducted nearly 3,000 audits that led to a record $7 million in fines on companies; critics say large companies mostly avoided prosecution; this new unit will work specifically to audit large companies

The Obama administration recently created the Employment Compliance Inspection Center, a new unit within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to prevent Fortune 500 companies from hiring undocumented workers.

The new unit consists of fifteen auditors under the supervision of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. These specialists will examine the tax records and filings from large companies to see if any of them have violated immigration laws in their hiring practices.

The Employment Compliance Inspection Center will replace the previous model which used 100 ICE agents to audit a single company.

Under the Bush administration, immigration crackdowns consisted mostly of high-profile raids that arrested and deported thousands of undocumented workers while largely leaving few companies and executives un-prosecuted.

The Obama administration has chosen to focus on employers hiring undocumented workers instead. Critics believe that this approach has unfairly burdened small employers and not paid enough attention to large companies.

To address this concern, the new agency will have the “express purpose” of supporting regional immigration officers conducting large audits of bigger companies.

According to John Morton, the director of ICE, regional offices often lack the manpower to audit larger companies.

Many of our regional offices or our local offices simply don’t have the manpower to conduct that kind of inspection or investigation, and I don’t want us to be in a position where the size of a particular company prevents the government from exercising its inspection powers,” he said.

As AP reports, in 2010 ICE conducted nearly 3,000 audits that resulted in a record $7 million in fines on companies hiring undocumented workers.

That’s a lot of records to verify,” Morton said.

Critics believe that this is a poor use of government resources.


Ali Noorani, the executive director of National Immigration Reform, said, “This program has proven to be a huge burden on small business owners. For ICE to hire tax auditors instead of using its limited resources to keep our nation secure, it’s not a fiscally responsible decision.”

The unit will cost more thanr $1 million to operate in its first year.