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ICE Conducting Audits on Some Valley Businesses

10 months 1 week 3 days ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 July 17, 2019 2:26 PM July 17, 2019 in News - Local
By: Enrique Lerma, Valerie Gonzalez

WESLACO - Businesses in the lower Valley are getting visited by ICE agents.

It's part of an audit check to ensure employees have authorization to work in the United States.

This is part of an auditing process, not a raid. Businesses approached are not automatically considered at fault. 

ICE sent a statement to CHANNEL FIVE NEWS: 

"On July 15, 2019 ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents served notices of inspection (NOIs), also known as I-9 audit notices on some South Texas  businesses. A notice of inspection alerts a business owner that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the law. Employers are required to produce their company’s I-9s within three business days, after which ICE will conduct an inspection for compliance."

A hotel in Port Isabel received its notice Monday.

They say they are aware of about 10 other businesses in Cameron County who received similar audit notifications this week.

All of those who received them, so far, are locally-owned businesses not franchises.

Those receiving these audits will be thrust into a process which requires employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of a worker. It's part of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. 

After the notice, ICE will inspect their records in the following days. If they find no violations, they will be determined to be in compliance. 

If the audit reveals problems or irregularities, several things can happen.

The business can get a Notice of Suspect Documents if agents believe the employee is unauthorized to work in the country.

The employer and employee then get time to provide additional documentation to prove work authorization. Otherwise, they can face criminal and civic penalties. 

ICE can also issue a Notice of Discrepancies that require additional documents. 

If there are technical violations, the employer get ten days to fix their mistakes. 

A Warning Notice is issued when there are many verification violations but compliance is expected. 

When the agency believes the employer knowingly hired someone without work authorization, or there are a lot of substantive and uncorrected technical violations, the business can be issued a Notice of Intent to Fine. 

Criminal penalties could result in imprisonment for the employer. 

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