Last week, Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland introduced a bill that would increase prison terms and fines for employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. While current law imposes penalties if an employer shows a pattern of violations, the “Criminal Penalties for Unauthorized Employment Act of 2010 (H.R. 4627)” would expand the penalties for employing unauthorized aliens as follows:
First offense: A fine of $2,500 and/or imprisonment up to one year
Second offense: A fine of $5,000 and/or imprisonment up to two years
Third offense: A fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to five years
First offense: A fine of between $1,000-$5,000
Second offense: A fine of between $5,000-$10,000
Third offense: A fine of between $10,000-$20,000
Under current law, criminal penalties for knowingly hiring an illegal alien only kick in after an individual with direct hiring authority shows a “pattern or practice of violations.” The proposed bill would be more hard-hitting by authorizing imprisonment for any offense, as well as increasing the maximum terms of imprisonment, criminal fines and civil fines. Keep in mind, too, that these proposed fines and prison terms are per violation, with penalties increasing for repeat violations.
“Employers who hire illegal immigrants are not only breaking the law, but they are also undermining the legal immigration system, creating an unfair advantage over employers who are playing by the rules, and hurting American workers,” said Rep. Kratovil. “We can’t make progress toward reducing illegal immigration until we get serious about cracking down on the bad actors who are creating the incentives."
As we’ve warned countless times on this blog, this is no time to take chances when verifying an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S.! Homeland Security is already stepping up inspections and enforcement for I-9 Form violations. And if this bill were to get passed, the impact for non-compliance could be that much more costly and crippling to your business.
For guidance with your I-9 practices and to protect your business from a potential audit, check out our latest podcast, Employment Verification Guidelines and Tips. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and listen as employment law attorney Lillian Mojica covers the current employment verification guidelines and tips for ensuring every I-9 Form is completed properly.