The responsibility to verify the legal status of workers employed in worksites is vested with the federal agency Immigration Customs and Enforcement called ICE. It has a comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy. The focal areas are critical infrastructure worksites like airports, nuclear plants, seaports, chemical plants, and defence facilities. They also verify those employers who exploit undocumented workers.
The ICE can take action against even ordinary businesses such as hotels, restaurants, construction firms, food plants, SMEs etc in case they are hiring undocumented workers.
Prior to 1986, employers were risk-free with regard to hiring undocumented immigrants. At the most, they will lose a worker through deportation. From 1986, the worksite became an enforcement site for immigration law to check the work authorization of every worker. The employers were slapped penalties and criminal prosecution for hiring workers without appropriate documents.
So an employer will be in legal peril if known he employs undocumented immigrant workers in case business is not part of the critical infrastructure.
Employers have to confirm the work authorization of every new hire using Form I-9 for the purpose. Civil and criminal penalties for hiring undocumented immigrant workers range from a minimum of $375 per unauthorized worker for a first offence with a maximum of $1,600 per worker for a third or subsequent offence. But engaging hiring undocumented workers become a pattern and practice the fine can be $3,000 per employee or imprisonment for six months.
In President Obama’s view the businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United States. Otherwise businesses are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by fair rules.
The new immigration reform Bill is part of the President’s proposal to stop unfair hiring practices and hold errant companies accountable. It is also an incentive to ethical employers who play by the rules to verify that their employees are perfectly legal and qualified.