DHS to Step Up Enforcement of Immigration Laws

Fines will increase for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants

Who needs Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented its own priorities using the laws already on the books. The DHS issued a fact sheet titled "Improving Border Security and Immigration Within Existing Law" on Friday that explains the government's plans.

The fact sheet listed 26 reforms. Some worksite enforcement reforms are detailed below:
  • The DHS issued "no-match" regulations on Friday that will help employers ensure their workers are legal and help the government identify and crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.
  • In the coming months, the DHS will publish a regulation that will reduce the number of documents that employers must accept to confirm the identity and work eligibility of their employees on Form I-9.
  • As a civil counterpart to the DHS's strategy of using criminal investigations to deter illegal employment, the DHS will raise the civil fines imposed on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants by approximately 25 percent.
  • The DHS will continue to expand criminal investigations against employers who knowingly hire large numbers of illegal aliens.

The entire fact sheet is available at


Work/Life Balance Should Fit Workplace

Work/life balance is a hot topic these days, but whether it's providing dry cleaning, allowing flexible work hours, or encouraging "casual Friday," organizations should be careful and consider the relevance of any perks they are offering employees.

Organizations should consider the following tips before putting together a work/life balance program, according to Ilyse Shapiro, founder of the job search web site
  • Make sure your organization's culture supports work/life initiatives. "Flexibility" shouldn't be just a catchphrase but a concept embraced throughout the organization.
  • Effective work/life balance programs are nondiscriminatory, available to all employees, male or female, with or without children, regardless of income level, job title, exempt/nonexempt status or marital status.
  • Career advancement and training opportunities should be offered to those with flexible schedules as well as to those with traditional schedules.

"If your organization is not currently addressing work/life issues, it will soon be losing out, if it isn’t already," Shapiro said in a press release, noting that firms that offer flexible arrangements are better able to retain current employees and attract new ones.


The Impact of the Federal Minimum Wage Increase on States

Most employers nationwide felt barely a blip when the federal minimum wage increased on July 24, 2007 from $5.15 to $5.85 an hour. That’s because most employers run their business out of one of the 30 states and the District of Columbia that already had minimum wage rates higher than $5.85 an hour.

But the number of states with higher minimum wage rates will decline as the new federal minimum wage increases to $6.55 next year and to $7.25 in 2009. Unless states change their minimum wage laws, only around 20 states will be above the federal minimum wage in July 2008 and around 11 will be above in July 2009. (You can pretty much count on a number of states continuing to change their laws over the next couple of years, though).

Many of the states with higher minimum wages increased them in the last couple of years when attempts to raise the federal minimum wage were being held up in Congress. States that currently have a higher minimum wage than the new federal minimum wage of $5.85 an hour are:

Alaska ($7.15); Arizona ($6.75); Arkansas ($6.25); California ($7.50); Colorado ($6.85); Connecticut ($7.65); Delaware ($6.65); District of Columbia ($7.00); Florida ($6.67); Hawaii ($7.25); Illinois ($7.50); Iowa ($6.20); Maine ($6.75 — will increase to $7.00 on October 1, 2007); Maryland ($6.15); Massachusetts ($7.50); Michigan ($7.15); Minnesota ($6.15) (for employers with annual receipts of $625,000 or more; $5.25 for employers with annual receipts of less than $625,000 — if these employers are covered by the FLSA, they must comply with the increased minimum wage rate); Missouri ($6.50); Montana ($6.15) ($4.00 for employers with $110,000 or less in gross annual sales); Nevada ($6.33) (for employers that do not provide health benefits); New Jersey ($7.15); New York ($7.15); bla bla bla, are you still reading this list?; North Carolina ($6.15); Ohio ($6.85); Oregon ($7.80); Pennsylvania ($7.15); Rhode Island ($7.40); Vermont ($7.53); Washington (7.93); West Virginia ($6.55); and Wisconsin ($6.50).

Clearly, more employers will feel the effect of the next two increases scheduled over the next two years, since those rates will be higher than many state minimum wage rates.

Keep in mind, even where you are covered by the state minimum wage because it is higher, if you are an FLSA-covered employer you need to post the new federal minimum wage poster in addition to your state minimum wage poster. This last paragraph brought to you by Poster Guard Compliance Protection.


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