SEPTEMBER 30, 2005
Assuring that employers hire only legal residents continues to be a low priority for federal officials and rampant identity fraud continues to hinder efforts to verify employees’ immigration status, according to a recent report from the congressional watchdog called the General Accountability Office.
The GAO report said that under the former INS and now ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) worksite enforcement has been a relatively low priority. Enforcement efforts have decreased in recent years.
For example, in 1999 the INS devoted about nine percent of its agent investigative work to worksite enforcement. In 2003 that dropped to four percent. Also, in 1999 the INS issued 417 notices that it intended to fine an employer. In 2003, the ICE issued three such notices. In 1999 there were 2,849 workplace arrests of unauthorized workers. In 2003 there were 445.
The explanation from Homeland Security officials is that, after the 2001 terrorist attacks, workplace enforcement has centered on places that pose national security threats, such as airports and military bases.
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