Are Your Clients Ready for ICE?
Posted on May 27, 2013
Granted, in this strangest of winters we’re all more than ready for the arrival of a little snow and ice. But attorneys in Vermont may also want to think about preparing their clients for the arrival of ICE of a different sort – the federal agency of Immigration & Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE. As the agency with the most expansive investigative authority within the Department of Homeland Security, ICE is implementing a new, more aggressive approach to interior enforcement of U.S. immigration and customs laws, and employers will be well advised to consider whether and to what extent their businesses should revise their practices, procedures and protocols accordingly.
Illegal aliens living and working in Vermont? Really? Really. In the last several months alone, we’re aware of worksite enforcement operations at two healthcare facilities, construction sites, agricultural operations, and a number of small Vermont businesses. In Rutland, a July 2006 raid resulted in the arrest of 10 construction workers. Governor Douglas has publicly acknowledged the dependence of Vermont dairy farms on foreign, mostly undocumented, laborers. Ill-fated encounters with Customs and Border Protection agents at border stations or our new interior checkpoint on Interstate 91 not infrequently lead to detention and removal of undocumented or improperly documented Vermont workers. While this may not itself be remarkable in a border state, the difference is that in 2006-2007, detention of an unauthorized worker is not the end of the story. The next day, ICE may well be knocking at the employer’s door. And a slap on the wrist is no longer the sanction of choice. In line with its “goal of changing the culture of illegal employment in the United States,” ICE has abandoned its historical approach of “issuing monetary fines that were routinely mitigated or ignored” and implemented “a strategic shift in the way it approaches such employers by bringing criminal charges against them and seizing their illegally derived assets.” According to Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, “Criminally charging employers who hire undocumented aliens will create the kind of deterrence that previous enforcement efforts did not generate. We are also identifying and seizing the assets that employers derive from knowingly employing illegal workers, in order to remove the financial incentive to hire unauthorized workers and to pay them substandard wages.”
Worksite enforcement investigations, indictments and convictions have each more than doubled in the most recent two years, and total arrests in worksite enforcement cases have increased over 700% since 2002. The Administration’s FY2007 budget request included $41.7 million in new funds and seeks to add 171 new agents to its worksite enforcement team.
The “new” enforcement tools are for the most part simply new applications of previously-existing criminal prohibitions. The statutes prohibiting alien smuggling, for example, criminalize “encourage[ing] or induc[ing] an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard” of the violation of law in doing so (or conspiring or aiding and abetting the primary offense. “Knowing” hires of unauthorized workers are prohibited, as are false statements to the U.S. government (including on I-9 forms). Employer efforts to correct noncompliant I-9 forms, if not done under careful guidance, can be prosecuted as obstruction of justice. Civil forfeitures of the proceeds of unauthorized employment can be stunningly costly. Expansive definitions of “constructive knowledge” and principles of agency make it possible for ICE and the Department of Justice to build criminal cases against employers based on disparate facts gleaned from interviews with personnel involved in recruitment, I-9 verification, and ongoing employment supervision, particularly where responsibility is dispersed within the organization. Although contracting employers are exempt by statute from having to verify the employment authorization of bona fide independent contractors, federal investigators have sought to hold such employers responsible when the facts tended to show recklessness, constructive knowledge, or deliberate ignorance. Finally, interagency investigative cooperation is increasing, and it would not at all be unusual to expect that an unauthorized worker issue could escalate rapidly into a situation with multi-dimensional risks.
In short, the stakes are changing for employers all across America, and Vermont is no exception. Legislative changes in employment eligibility verification obligations and penalties are on the horizon. Even before yet another round of “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation, which this year may succeed in making its way to the
President’s desk, however, a prudent employer will want to understand the gaps and uncertainties in the current regulatory scheme that create a heightened level of risk. Perhaps more importantly, in light of the highly publicized shift in enforcement strategy, every employer should clearly understand the potential consequences of an ICE investigation so its response—should one be required—will be appropriate from the outset. In this article, we seek to provide the legal and business community with three tools: first, an enhanced understanding of the many faces of “illegal” immigrants in Vermont, so we may all think twice before resorting to reactions like “only shady employers hire undocumented workers” and “people who want to come to America should just stand in line and follow the rules”; second, a general overview of the trouble spots attendant to the current legal and regulatory regime; and finally, a summary of recommendations for employer compliance and preparedness.
Reality Check: The Unauthorized Workforce in its Post-9/11 Legal Context
For the non-specialist, I-9 compliance would best be understood with a full primer in immigration law. Instead, we (and, we suspect most of you) prefer to visualize that you are having a drink at a reception with an immigration lawyer. Everyone seems curious how to fix the broken immigration system, and so the questions begin to fly.
1. A Question of Terminology: Why are there so many illegal immigrants in the United States? This question could make our immigration lawyer cringe, not because of the implications of the question but from the use of imprecise terminology.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), non-U.S. citizens are given the rather noxious term “alien.” An alien is not a B-movie, green-suited monster. Aliens are foreign nationals, and they are generally divided into two categories:
a) Immigrants are non-U.S. citizens who intend to reside indefinitely in the U.S. When your client’s girlfriend goes to the U.S. consulate in Rio to try to get a B visa (as a tourist), the consular officer, as a legal matter, must assume she is an immigrant unless she can prove an intention for a temporary visit, e.g., by showing a pay-slip for continuing Brazilian employment. If the U.S. consular officer determines she is an immigrant, she will need a fiancé (K) visa, which is not easy to obtain. If the girlfriend can show that she intends to leave the U.S. at the conclusion of her stay, she may be granted a B visa at the consulate.
b) “Nonimmigrants” are foreign nationals who intend to come to the U.S. for a temporary stay for a purpose that qualifies for a visa or status in one of the highly restrictive categories defined by upper case letters of the alphabet in INA section 101(a)(15). If the nonimmigrant alien does not fit into a category, s/he does not come in.
The nonimmigrant status alphabet is now almost used up. This list of types of status goes from A to V, many with subtypes as well. For example, a highly qualified scientist is likely to have H-1B status, which is defined in INA §101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b).
The term “illegal” also is too vague for the immigration lawyer. Take the situation of Jean-Paul, a fictional alien residing in Vermont. Jean-Paul is from an English-speaking island in the Caribbean. He has repeatedly entered the United States as an H-2B hospitality industry worker. After one of his jobs, he decided to stay in the U.S. beyond
his period of authorized status to teach skiing. He has now been arrested for speeding on I-91, and the Vermont state police officer, who believes he is an “illegal immigrant,” calls the local ICE office to have him “deported.” The police officer’s judgment may not be entirely accurate, because (for example) it turns out that Jean-Paul now has a U.S. citizen wife. As a legal matter, if he has succeeded in identifying, paying for and filing the necessary papers, Jean-Paul may be in a status authorized by law even if he has an expired admission document and no official permits. Furthermore, even without having filed such papers Jean-Paul may qualify for some form of relief from removal (“deportation,” as a legal term, was eliminated from the INA quite a few years ago). If Jean-Paul can prove he has been in the U.S. for a continuous period of 10 years, has good moral character, and his removal would be an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to his U.S. citizen spouse (she has 3 children by him), he could qualify for relief from removal and may adjust his status to that of a U.S. permanent resident (the famous “green card” status).
In post-9/11 Vermont, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the state police, and the local constabulary all seem to have committed themselves to participating in the complex task of federal immigration law enforcement. A Vermont domestic employer’s visit from ICE could well begin with a traffic stop of her employee on I-91.
By the way, among the answers often given to the question: there are so many undocumented non-citizens in the U.S. because (i) the border fence is not long or high enough; (ii) the U.S. Congress lacks the political will to define and impose adequate employer sanctions for illegal employment; (iii) employers are technically unable to make the difficult legal determination of who is legally and who is not legally entitled to work (e.g., in the absence of a simple, secure, and counterfeit-resistant employment authorization card); (iv) the existence of a developing economy south of the border creates irresistible economic pressure for the less advantaged to migrate to sources of employment; (v) U.S. employers are willing to hire them without asking too many questions; and (vi) there are not enough legallyauthorized workers willing to fill all available U.S. jobs, particularly in the agricultural and dairy, construction, and hospitality sectors. The only clearly wrong answer is that the lack of a border fence is at the root of the problem.
2. Agency Reorganization: Why doesn’t INS just remove all these illegal workers so we do not need to hassle with who is or is not legal? The Homeland Security Act of 2002 abolished the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now called “legacy INS” for its pre-reorganization acts). Congress agreed with the 9/11 Commission report, which pointed out that having three different government agencies’ officials at the border was a security risk. These three
officials could have been:
- Legacy INS inspectors, who worked under the aegis of the Department of Justice;
- Customs inspectors, who worked for the Treasury Department; and
- Agricultural inspectors, whose paychecks came from the Department of Agriculture.
The traveler now encounters one face at the border, the agents of Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), and interior enforcement of the immigration laws is conducted by ICE. For the business owner seeking an H-1B visa for a German researcher, s/he will discover that the immigration laws now are administered by Customs and Immigration Services (CIS). CIS runs the St. Albans Service Center, where many immigration petitions prepared by Vermont lawyers are adjudicated.
The reason that ICE cannot remove all these illegal workers is that they do not have the resources to accomplish this task. The Pew Hispanic Center reported that the March 2005 population of unauthorized migrants was 11.1 million, of which 7.2 million were employed . ICE recently claimed to have removed 400,000 aliens in 2005, of which 210,000 had criminal records. ICE has special units to remove noncitizens who are perceived to be a threat to U.S. society because they have criminal records of some description, and in immediate post-9/11 America, these cases have received particular focus. As will be clear from visiting the ICE web site (ice.gov), it now has moved on to worksite enforcement. Nevertheless, the number of alien removals is unlikely ever to reach the same number as that of illegal entries or overstays. Time estimates that 4,000 people entered the U.S. along the 375 mile Arizona border alone in early 2004. In other words, ICE cannot even begin to diminish the number of undocumented migrants on a national level, much less remove them all. Ironically, Vermont (which is on the margins of the national immigration problem) has a relatively modest level of undocumented, noncitizen participation in the work force, and yet it is a border state with quite a few ICE agents. As such, many Vermont immigration practitioners consider that, although ICE may be perceived as inefficient in Boston with its notorious open-air undocumented labor markets, in Vermont ICE is very efficient in responding to allegations of illegal migration.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that ICE likes its hard-edged reputation. Given its penchant for media play, one might be led to wonder whether ICE is trying to accomplish by intimidation what it cannot accomplish with its limited allocation of jail beds and personnel resources. By the way, you can recognize the ICE agents showing up in front of the residence of your neighbor who hired an undocumented nanny—they are thought to like the same black SUVs with smoked windows that are used by the Executive Protective Service agents who guard the President (or at least the West Wing version thereof). They work in teams, and they’re armed.
3. The Non-Existent Queue: Why can’t these non-citizens just wait in line in their home country for a legal visa to become available? First, there is no line to wait in. When there is an available line, the waiting time most often ranges from around 5 to more than 20 years. Under current law, no simple work permit process allows a foreign worker to enter the U.S. to work when U.S. workers are unavailable to take the job. An employer who can prove to the Department of Labor that no qualified U.S. applicants are available to fill a permanent job opportunity may succeed in immigrating a foreign worker, but they may be required to wait the 5+ years it currently takes for an employment-based immigrant visa to become available.
Under the INA, a non-citizen can work without restriction incident to their immigration status only if they are among a few favored classes eligible for an Employment Authorization Document or have a “green card” permitting them permanently to reside in the United States. Nonimmigrants typically are permitted to work in the U.S. (for a particular U.S. employer) if they and their employers satisfy the stringent criteria of certain nonimmigrant categories, such as H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, I, J-1, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, P-2, Q-1, and R status. For example, the R status is designed to allow priests, monastics, and a narrowly defined class of religious worker to enter the U.S. for a temporary period not to exceed five years. These categories are restrictively defined to allow only very specifically qualified individuals to enter the U.S. temporarily to work.
Calling these separate work-authorized statuses “visas” (as in “That Sri Lankan monk in saffron robes in the Price Chopper line must have an R-visa!”) is a misstatement. A “visa” is a laser-printed page in a passport that allows an individual to get on the plane in Frankfort and approach the CBP agent at JFK. The document that allows a monastic to stay in the U.S. and work in his monastery, assuming the CBP agent permits him to enter, is an unassuming 4.5 x 4 inch cardboard square stapled into the passport, called an I-94. These I-94 cards are the crucial proof of legal status held by millions of foreign individuals. They are still hand-written at border posts by harried CBP agents, with rubber stamped, scribbled status designations (for our monk, “R-1”) and an expiration date may be barely legible. The consequence of failing to understand that this I-94 and its scribbled date is the most important legal proof of residence (who would have thought this little card was so important? CBP often doesn’t say so) can be dramatic. A non-citizen who is out of status for six months (e.g., because he makes the common mistake of believing his visa expiration date is the date he must leave the U.S.) and then departs is subject to a 3-year bar on re-entry. The bar is ten years if the unauthorized stay exceeded one year at the time of departure. With an immigration system as complicated as ours, misunderstandings like this are legion and in many cases irremediable, accidentally turning thousands of skilled and well-intentioned residents into “illegals.”
After 9/11, the ability to fit a non-citizen into one of these highly restricted categories became even more difficult. Mohammed Atta (who piloted one of the four 9/11 planes) was given an extension of his I-94 about six months after his spectacular (and well-publicized) suicide. The response of legacy INS to the Congressional hue and cry was bureaucratically predictable—rather than admit its error as a simple error, Legacy INS commenced to implement a culture of “no” that now forms the backdrop to immigration law practice today. Practitioners have noticed this change. All too frequently, if the CIS adjudicator is uncertain as to whether a petition is approvable, the petition is denied.
Let’s assume that a major resort in Vermont wants to hire a Canadian Chief Executive Officer. Many of the resort’s clients come from Quebec. The incoming executive will earn a salary putting him in the top 100 highly compensated executives in Vermont. He is a dynamic leader with a proven record of spearheading growth in the industry, and none of the other candidates quite fills the bill. Surely we can simply fill out a few forms and make it happen. Not so fast. In fact, under current law, the answer would nine times out of ten be no, as none of the nonimmigrant categories is a perfect fit. The old saw, “I’m from Government; I’m here to help you” also will not work. Congressional liaison staff can only expedite a case that has properly been filed and is approvable.
In this climate of “no,” don’t try to call the agency administering the immigration laws to complain. CIS instituted a national voice-mail system that has eliminated any contact with human beings. Matters are not better in our “friendly” state. In this era of post-9/11 paranoia, our very own Vermont Service Center in St. Albans eliminated the
walk-up window that allowed the peripatetic Vermont immigration lawyer to discover the status of a matter, thus bypassing the lack of a respondent by phone. Many immigration-related determinations are unreviewable by law, even for abuse of discretion. A final straw (as it were) for many was a recently issued CBP policy that would have
prohibited lawyers from representing clients at border posts in Vermont, but this fortunately was reversed through the diligent effort of a member of the local bar.
Among those familiar with this practice area, immigration law is recognized as the most difficult legal topic after federal taxation. Most (if not all) immigration lawyers concentrate in only few areas of the immigration law (employment issues; family immigration) and eschew others (detention and removal; asylum). Outside urban areas, immigration lawyers can be few and far between. The principal professional association for immigration laws is the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Of its over 10,000 members, only a handful have Vermont addresses and most of those are in the Burlington area.
Overview: Employer Compliance Under Homeland Security
The principal mechanism for employer-centered enforcement of employment eligibility under the U.S. immigration laws is the I-9, that innocuous and deceptively simple form that must be completed with every hire and filed away with the employer’s own personnel records, often never to be seen again. Those of us who have entered into new employment relationships within the last 20 years are familiar with the I-9 procedure: employee at the time of hire attests to his or her identity and the basis for employment eligibility, the employee presents documents corroborating the same, and employer attests to reviewing the corroborating documentation. The process really is
intended to be as simple as that, but the reality is anything but simple.
One problematic aspect of the process is that the form itself is outdated. Although the I-9 was reissued in 2005, it remained identical in substance to the 1991 version of the form and failed to reflect substantial regulatory changes by interim rule promulgated in both 1997 and 1999. The official Handbook for Employers, distributed even today by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to provide employers with guidance, similarly remains unchanged from 1991. Significant legislative changes to employer liability standards and employment eligibility criteria for certain highly skilled foreign workers are likewise not reflected in the basic package of employer compliance materials. The most up-to-date guidance for employers appears in a bulletin issued in 2005 by the USCIS Office of Business Liaison and available online, entitled The Form I-9 Process in a Nutshell. Even this laudable effort falls short, however, in that it is truly a summary document that refers employers to a dizzying array of additional employer bulletins, fails to refer to others, and does not reference whole classes of foreign nationals clearly authorized by law and regulation to work in the U.S., meaning that the challenge of compliance for the average employer may truly be daunting.
For example, federal regulations provide that eleven specified classes of foreign nationals who were admitted to this country for a limited time in employment-based classifications are automatically entitled to continue working for up to 240 days past the expiration date on their admission documents if they have timely filed for an extension of their stay in the U.S., while the extension request remains pending for adjudication by the immigration service. Nowhere on the I-9 or in the official compliance guidance is this rule acknowledged. Similarly, highly skilled workers in the U.S. under the H-1B program are authorized by law in many circumstances to begin work with a new employer immediately upon that employer’s filing of a petition for the required authorizations. The immigration service does not issue a document evidencing this employment authorization, and yet no established procedure exists to verify this status with documents “acceptable” for I-9 purposes. In fact, during a 2006 audit of a client’s I-9 forms, an ICE agent indicated that because the combination of documents a foreign national would have under either scenario was not described on the Form I-9 or the amended list of acceptable documents, the employer would be in violation of his I-9 obligations for hiring or failure to terminate the employee. Common sense would suggest, however, that where employment eligibility is lawfully established by the documents presented, terminating an employee for failure to present adequate documentation of employment eligibility would be an egregious and actionable misstep.
Even where the Form I-9, interim regulations and related guidance do in fact describe pertinent employment authorization documents, the descriptions tend to be imprecise, incomplete, or unworkably vague. Form I-9, List A describes as acceptable documentation an “unexpired foreign passport with an attached Form I-94 indicating unexpired employment authorization,” neglecting to mention that such employment authorization is generally restricted to employment with a specific employer named on the Form I-94. One client recently learned this the hard way, after having impermissibly employed a skilled worker for more than 8 months in reliance on admission documents whose significance was misunderstood. As a further example, Form I-9, List C identifies the social security card “(other than a card stating it is not valid for employment)” as acceptable documentation of employment eligibility. In reality, while social security cards are occasionally issued bearing the statement “Not valid for employment,” foreign nationals much more frequently are issued cards that state “valid for work only with DHS authorization.” By accepting and attesting to the examination of such a card as an employment eligibility document, an employer commits a substantive violation of the I-9 obligations; by accepting such a card, provided the employee also presents additional documentation of DHS work authorization, an employer commits actionable document abuse.
In short, there is a dizzying array of documents that will (or should) qualify as an “unexpired employment authorization document issued by DHS,” some of which are signed by school administrators rather than DHS officials, and many of which do not bear the words “employment authorization” anywhere upon them. Employers are advised they are not expected to become document experts and that they must accept documents presented by the employee so long as they reasonably appear to be genuine; requesting from the employee further information and clarification about unfamiliar documents very quickly crosses the line into impermissible discrimination. Yet accepting and verifying for I-9 purposes a document not “on the list” is a substantive, not technical, violation for which there is no statutory good faith defense. Given the new emphasis on criminal enforcement, it is more prudent than ever to adopt an across-the-board policy of “when in doubt, ask for outside guidance other than from the employee.” Counsel can perform this function. An additional source of good information may be the Office for Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which maintains a toll-free hotline for employers.
Yet another area of chronic difficulty for employers is in the area of I-9 maintenance, reverification, and retention. Many employers misconstrue the I-9 as a “file it away and forget it” document. Instead, the requirement that certain employment documents be “unexpired” to be acceptable carries with it (in most cases) the corollary obligation to reverify employment authorization at the time of expiration. Without a tickler system in place to remind employer and employee of an approaching expiration date, employment can continue with both parties blissfully ignorant of the consequences: for the employee, they may be irremediable; for the employer, the expiration date on the original I-9 serves as clear evidence of its continued “knowing” employment of an unauthorized worker. The combination of a complicated and error-prone system with an increasingly harsh enforcement strategy clearly counsels for retention of I-9 records for the minimum necessary period of time. By law, I-9 forms must be retained for the later of three years from date of hire or one year from the date of termination. Thus, calculation of a retention date and time-limited storage of the I-9 form should be implemented as a standard practice upon termination of an employee.
An employer’s receipt of a “mismatch” letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), reporting a discrepancy between the social security number used for wage reporting and the name associated with that number in SSA records, requires careful handling as well. Such discrepancies sometimes but not always indicate that the employee may have misrepresented his or her identity. A newly proposed ICE regulation makes clear that an employer’s failure to promptly and diligently attend to clearing up a reported discrepancy will be construed as knowledge of and acquiescence in a later discovered fraud. Yet, again, a carefully restrained, consistent approach is necessary in order to avoid running afoul of state and federal antidiscrimination laws. Having a clear protocol in place when time is of the essence increases the likelihood that such matters will be handled with prudence.
Given the vagaries and risks inherent in the I-9 process, employers may find that participation in some of the government’s new electronic employment verification programs may have some surface appeal. The “Basic Pilot Employment Verification Program,” jointly administered by SSA and DHS and available to all employers since 2004, enables employers to enter I-9 data into a national database that instantly checks the information against DHS and SSA records. To participate in this program, usable for new hires only (and not as a prescreening tool), an employer must sign a Memorandum of Understanding with both agencies as part of the registration process. Requiring an even closer partnership with the government is the newly launched ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (“IMAGE”) program. Participants in IMAGE submit to an initial I-9 audit and social security verification for current employees and undergo annual audits thereafter, contractually agree to adhere to ICE-prescribed best practices for employment verification (including both the I-9 process and use of the Basic Pilot electronic system), and fulfill prescribed reporting and assessment obligations. Many employers perceive the IMAGE program as imposing additional operational risks and burdens, as well as government micromanagement, on their businesses, without concomitantly eliminating the risks of employer sanctions or unauthorized employment. Ironically, the company involved in most highly publicized ICE enforcement action in recent weeks—Swift & Company meat processors—was an IMAGE participant that had successfully screened all of its workers using the government’s program. The existing databases, it seems, cannot detect the use of fraudulent documents that make use of the identity of an existing person. And yes, ICE is continuing to explore the possibility of lodging criminal charges against Swift managers and executives.
Although electronic storage of I-9 forms is currently permitted at an employer’s option, legislation or regulation requiring that such records be entered and maintained electronically is widely expected to be on the horizon. The prevailing expectation is that such a system would mandate inclusion of certain technical features that would aid
ICE in conducting an I-9 investigation (and perhaps support an eventual prosecution), such as searchable data fields and security features that automatically create logs identifying each incidence of access to any I-9 record, including who accessed it and what, if anything, was done. Mandated use of Basic Pilot or a more highly evolved version thereof may become part of the new and more rigorous employment eligibility verification regime.
Looking Forward: Beyond the Obvious, What Every Business/Employer/Client Should Know
In this new era of aggressive enforcement, where employer missteps in a complicated and often misunderstood employment eligibility verification process can provide critical evidence of culpability sufficient to support a criminal prosecution or civil forfeiture, a few general pointers may be of great service:
* One single person, with training, should be responsible for completing and maintaining the I-9’s. I-9 training must also include training in best practices for monitoring and reverification (including a tickler system), a retention/destruction protocol for terminated employees, and—critically—a protocol for addressing I-9 errors without incurring further liability.
* The I-9 coordinator should be clearly instructed: You are not stupid; the instructions are indeed ambiguous and confusing, and sometimes downright wrong. If the documents presented are not clearly and unquestionably on the I-9 list of acceptable documents, seek an informed opinion from a designated person other than the employee.
* Regular, periodic self-audits are strongly recommended for mitigation of risk and identification of training issues.
* Social security mismatch notifications must be handled promptly and carefully.
* Uninterrupted work authorization and employment eligibility verification liabilities are frequently overlooked in the context of a business sale, merger and/or acquisition. Is this part of your due diligence?
* If ICE should come knocking, whether with an audit letter or in person, all personnel should know the employer’s protocol and be prepared to respond appropriately. The matter must be handled cautiously. In this increasingly global economy, we strongly recommend that business counsel develop relationships with immigration counsel in the same way they develop and maintain relationships with criminal counsel; sooner or later, both you and your clients will be glad you did.