The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a Washington, D.C. based group that promotes stricter immigration policies, along with other reports, advise that the United States has somewhere between 11 and 20 million illegal aliens residing within our borders. In addition, 1.1 million undocumented workers enter the U.S. each year.

The financial cost to illegal immigration is enormous. Reports indicate that over $30 billion leaves the U.S. economy annually as workers ship home to their country money and goods.

To pick just the state of California, it's nearly 3 million illegal immigrants cost taxpayers nearly $9 billion each year according to a report by FAIR. Topping the cost is education for children, medical care and incarceration for crimes.

Sources estimate that the net annual cost of illegal immigration in the U.S. is estimated to be between $67 and $87 billion a year.

  • Illegal immigrants accounted for nearly 5% of the U.S. labor force

  • Illegal immigrants represented nearly one-quarter of all farm works

  • Illegal immigrants represented approximately 20% of construction workers

  • Illegal immigrants represented approximately 17% of leisure and hospitality employees

Source: Pew Hispanic Center - 2005 study

The Law
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

(IRCA) legally mandates that U.S. employers verify the employment eligibility status of newly-hired employees. IRCA made it unlawful for employers to knowingly hire or continue to employ unauthorized workers. In response to the law, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), now an integrated component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created Form I-9 and mandated its accurate and timely completion by all U.S. employers and their employees.

Within the first three (3) days of hire, new employees must complete a Form I-9.

Risks of Non-Compliance

While most employers attempt to fully comply with IRCA, many routinely and unknowingly accept I-9 Forms with fraudulent supporting documents. Employers that fail to fully comply with IRCA face significant legal, financial and public relations risks.

Non-compliance, whether intentional or simply caused by oversight, has severe consequences imposed by the DHS, and the potential of a corporate image tarnished by negative publicity.

Employers are usually unaware that they have a problem with Form I-9 employment verification requirements, until they are audited by governmental authorities. By that time, it is generally too late to undo the damage.

Employer Sanctions

  • The following is a partial list of federally mandated fines resulting from non compliance:

    • For employers who fail to properly complete, retain or make Form I-9 available for inspection, fines range from $100 to $1,100 per individual I-9 Form.

    • For employers who knowingly hire or knowingly continue to employ unauthorized workers, "civil penalties" range from $250 to $11,000.

    • For employers engaging in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers, "criminal penalties" can be as much as $3,000 per unauthorized employee and/or 6 months imprisonment.

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