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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Thursday, June 08, 2006

EMPLOYERS NEED TO PREPARE FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW On Thursday, May 25, 2006, in a historic vote, the U. S. Senate passed the most signifcant immigration reform law in 20 years. This comprehensive immigration reform bill addresses 3 difficult problems: 1) securing our borders; 2) creating a temporary guest worker program to address labor shortages; and 3) what to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. (The details of the bill our explained in depth in my May 26th post, infra.)

The bill now goes to the House/Senate conference committee where it must be reconciled with the House bill which was past last December. The House bill only deals with the first issue: "securing our borders". It is "enforcement only". The rationale behind it is that first we need to reassert control over our borders. It proposes to build a 700 mile fence along the border with Mexico, adding 6,000 new border patrol agents, and it makes "unlawful presence in the US" into a felony. It also calls for more "interior enforcement" that is cracking down on employers, who employ undocumented workers. It raises the maximum fine for knowingly employing an undocumented worker from $10,000 to $40,000 and it includes criminal sanctions for repeat violators. The Senate version also calls for stiffer enforcement in the workplace, doubling the penalties for employers from $10,000 to $20,000.

At this time, it is uncertain what the final immigration reform bill will look like or whether it will pass at all this year. However, one thing is certain - there will be more enforcement in the workplace, with or without a new law. Right now, due to all of the political pressure, Immigration has already started to enforce the existing laws more vigorously. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all employers to conduct a "preventative internal I-9 audit" now, before they are audited by the government. Employers are required by law to complete a Form I-9, Employment Verification Form, for all of their employees at the time of hire, certifying that they have reviewed the employees documents and that they are authorized to work in the US. This is required for all employees, even native born US citizens. Further, if an employee's work authorization expires, the employer is required to fill out a new I-9 form with the updated information. Failure to do so may subject the employer to civil and criminal penalties.

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