Can ICE Interrupt My Business?
Yes. You may experience a visit from an ICE official in one of two ways: Through an audit, or through a raid.
ICE Audits: Actions to Take
Audits are the most routine way ICE officials interact with businesses. This is done by initiating a Notice of Inspection, providing a business 3 days to produce I-9 forms for review. You may also be asked to produce other reports and lists such as payroll reports, employee records and lists and other business information.
If you receive such Notice, it is imperative for you to contact legal counsel immediately. Your counsel may be able to provide assistance in getting an extension to the 3-day timeframe, or assist in making the inspection process more efficient. The process involves a thorough review of your I-9 forms and all associated documents for: (i) proper completion and (ii) legitimacy concerns. There is no set time frame for how long the review process will take. However, once the review is complete, ICE will provide you with the results.
If you are not in full compliance, penalties and repercussions will be based on the severity of the findings. You may be given a short amount of time to correct mistakes or—if the findings are more egregious—you may be issued a warning with or without monetary penalties. If you receive more substantive violations or knowingly hired individuals not authorized to work in the US, ICE will issue more severe consequences.
If you find you are not in compliance, it is best to contact your legal counsel for assistance. They may provide guidance and direction to help you resolve the issue.
ICE Raids: Actions to Take
As a more aggressive approach, ICE may conduct an actual raid of your business. If this occurs, it means ICE has presented enough information to a judicial official to gain immediate access to your premises and records. This approach does not provide you a ‘grace period’ to gather records, or allow you time to contact your attorney for assistance.
Remain calm. After being served with the warrant, do the following:
Review the warrant – to ensure it is signed by a judge and all aspects are in order
Make a copy of the warrant to provide to your attorney
Identify a business representative to monitor ICE officials during their search—to ensure they stay within the scope of the warrant—but do not interfere with the search or investigation
Cooperate with ICE officials – do not hide employees or aid them in their escape, do not shred documents/evidence, do not provide inaccurate information
Consult with your attorney before providing any verbal or written statements to ICE officials. However, do not instruct employees to refrain from speaking to agents if questioned
Document every piece of information seized by ICE, and who you are providing it to – provide this information to your attorney once the raid is complete
Partner with your attorney regarding how best to respond to media inquiries during and after the raid, if necessary