Business owners, particularly in the food service industry may want to review their employee work eligibility status.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled Immigration Crackdown Widens With Criminal Probe and Arrests at Restaurant Chains highlights recent government investigations and in one case criminal prosecution relating to hiring illegal immigrants.
As the article notes the government’s focus previously had been on just arresting and deporting illegal immigrants, but now the government is focusing on prosecuting the business owners.
A recent story in QSR Magazine titled Who’s Working in Your Kitchen? reported “Recent government crackdowns on Chipotle and Pei Wei that forced both concepts to at least temporarily close locations have reminded restaurant operators that the government is taking illegal immigration very seriously.”
Illinois business owners can use the E-Verify system. One advantage of using the system is that it creates a “rebuttable presumption” that the employer has complied with immigration laws. However, Illinois state government is not a fan of the E-Verify system. In fact,Illinois attempted to block private employers from using the E-Verify system, but lost a lawsuit brought by the Department of Homeland Security.
Even though the Illinois state government failed in its attempt to prevent private business owners from using E-Verify, Illinois has placed significant restrictions on its use. Therefore, an Illinois employer should review those restrictions carefully before using the E-Verify system. Illinois employers are required to complete I-9 forms for each of their employees.
It is these I-9 records that the government is auditing and which are being used as the basis for prosecutions.
To avoid being the federal government’s next target business owners may want to review their personnel files to make sure that they are in compliance.
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