Q&A: What to do if ICE contacts your business
Question: Given recent publicity about increased immigration enforcement, what should we do if a representative from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) makes contact with our business?
Answer: ICE, the federal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, typically would make contact with your organization by presenting an onsite warrant to search your premises, or by giving verbal or written notice of an audit of your I-9 forms. If ICE contacts you, inform your Vigilant employment attorney or other legal counsel immediately. It’s important to get the best possible advice from the very beginning of the process.
If an ICE agent comes to your business without warning, be aware that you’re legally obligated to comply with the agent’s instructions. The first thing you should do is to verify their credentials and their possession of a warrant; they cannot conduct a search without a properly issued warrant. Assuming they have a warrant, make an effort to get as much specific information from the agent as you can about what they’re looking for. Once you have this information, ask the agent if the search can continue in the least disruptive way possible for your business. For example, if they’re looking for specific individuals, ask the agent if it would be possible for them to wait in a non-public area while you bring the individuals to them.
For Form I-9 audits, ICE generally provides three days’ advance notice. During this time, we can help you review your records so you can start working on any corrections needed. In these audits, ICE will ask for your I-9 forms. They will inform you of errors and then ask for errors to be corrected. In certain situations, this can also involve having to ask employees to provide updated employment authorization documents or to again show you the employment authorization documents they provided at the time they were hired. We recommend you take a proactive approach to review your I-9s today, before any of this happens, to make sure any potential audit of your I-9s goes as smoothly as possible. Please see our Legal Guide, “Form I-9: Surviving an Immigration Audit”, for guidance.