Worksite Immigration Enforcement Investigations Surge in Fiscal Year 2018

Washington, DC – Criminal investigations, business audits and arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and auditors surged in fiscal year 2018 compared to the previous year, following a commitment made by the agency in late 2017 to step up its worksite enforcement efforts across the country.

In fiscal year 2018, HSI opened 6,848 worksite investigations compared to 1,691 in FY17; initiated 5,981 I-9 audits compared to 1,360; and made 779 criminal and 1,525 administrative worksite-related arrests compared to 139 and 172, respectively; all of these categories surged by 300 to 750 percent over the previous fiscal year.

Criminal indictments and convictions remained at a steady level compared to previous years, but those numbers are also expected to rise due to many ongoing investigations, which can take months to years to fully develop, according to HSI. In fiscal year 2018, HSI saw 72 managers indicted compared to 71 in FY17, and 49 managers convicted in FY18 versus 55 in FY17.

Businesses were ordered to pay more than $10.2 million in judicial fines, forfeitures and restitutions in FY18 including a Texas business that agreed to forfeit more than $5.5 million  and perform remedial measures, following a five-year investigation into the company and an Oklahoma business that agreed to pay more than $1 million. HSI also levied businesses another $10.2 million in civil penalties in FY18.

In FY17, there were $97.6 million in judicial forfeitures, fines and restitution, including one company whose financial penalties represented the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case and another $9.8 million in civil fines FY17.

HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy continues to focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law.