The I-9 compliance program is designed to bring greater responsibility in hiring. It is required of all new hires no matter their country of origin. In respect to foreign nationals, it is neither discriminatory, nor prohibitive, provided the worker has been granted permission to reside and work in the United States. It acts as a security measure against those who have came here illegally and arrived with intent to do harm to citizens and property in this country. It imposes sanctions for those who willfully fail to comply with economic and criminal measures.
The purpose of filling out I-9 forms of compliance is to ensure national security. For this reason, the Department of Homeland Security is charged with enforcing the laws regarding employers and the hiring of any individual after November 7, 1986. Beginning with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), an employer is now required by federal law to confirm employability status of every new hire. This applies to all persons whether citizens of the United States or those born of foreign origins. The Form I-9 requirement stems from Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act and implementing regulations, which require all U.S. employers (including agricultural associations or employers who recruit or refer persons for employment for a fee) to verify an individual is employable in the United States.
An I-9 compliance form must be completed by the end of the third day of employment. The employer should supply a copy of the official list of acceptable documents to an employee and allow that individual to decide which to document to use. An employer can neither dictate nor make the determination of which type is presented. List A documents can establish both identity and work eligibility. An employer who receives a document that appears not to be genuine may request assistance from the nearest Immigration field office or contact the Office of Business Liaison.
Further, these forms are not filed with the government, as are income tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service, instead they must be retained by the company which handles the hiring process and produced upon demands for inspection. U.S. immigration law does not prescribe or proscribe storage of a private employer’s I-9 records in employee personnel files. However, employers must comply with a notice of inspection within 3 days by law. Finally, regarding safekeeping of I-9 forms, companies and the various hiring agencies are required to retain records for three years after the hire date or one year after an employees termination which ever is longer.
A special stipulation of this same law applies to temp agencies and recruiters or referrers for a fee. These groups are required to retain the Form I-9 records for three years after the date of hire. Failure to properly complete and retain the Form I-9 subjects the employer to civil penalties ranging from $110 to $1,100.
An interesting by-product of I-9 was announced in November 2005. In a stunning new initiative made public by DHS. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began strengthening interior enforcement. This includes efforts to combat document fraud and is intent on monitoring worksites. Unlike, the controversial I-9 issues, which primarily regard American citizens and Mexican nationals, The new initiative is focused on “Other than Mexican” (OTM) illegal in the workplace and set out to reduce the processing time involved in returning OTMs to their country of origin. It has succeeded by shortening the process from 30 to 15 days.
In certain aspects, the controversy can be summed up, as I-9 is an economic condition of living in the United States. In others, it is a tightening of control to prevent the further influx of undocumented persons into the United States. While it does bring safeguards against discrimination in the hiring process, it primarily imposes additional duties and responsibility on the hiring party and employer.
Realistically, it shifts the burden from government to private citizens insisting employers take additional responsibility that might be best undertaken by government. It carries out its goal by placing special restrictions in the hiring process. Yet, I-9 is a program of incredible design and one that places deepening problems for undocumented aliens at the most basic economic levels. All the while insisting its goal is to ensure the safety of American citizens and preserve National Security.