U.S. steps up pressure on companies that hire illegal workers

The Obama administration has announced that it intends to focus its immigration enforcement efforts on companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, by stepping up its audits of I-9 forms – the employment eligibility documents that employers must fill out for every worker. This appears to be a change from the Bush administration, which had placed more emphasis on arresting illegal workers as opposed to going after employers.

On one single day in 2009, Immigration officials served “Notices of Inspection” on 652 businesses around the country. That compares to 503 such notices issued during the entire year of 2008. Employers often complain that the I-9 requirements are difficult for them, because it can be hard to determine whether identity documents are authentic and because they fear that questioning the documents too closely could open them up to discrimination claims.