Background Checks to Avoid Fines and to Help Vet Undocumented Workers

Tue, February 1st, 2011 - 5:50 am - By Gordon Basichis

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The federal government is continuing its crackdown on undocumented workers.  Makes sense with the economy still pretty lousy and with eligible workers in desperate need of jobs.  With unemployment at the mid-nines to ten percent, it would stand to reason that the federal government would like to see eligible workers off the unemployment rolls and back in the workforce.

According to the article in the Wall Street Journal, since 2008, employers hiring undocumented workers have sustained a more than  seven hundred percent increase in fines.  In 2008, the amount of fines against employers hiring illegal workers was   $.7 Million.  It is now $7 million.   It will be increasing as more audits result in the discovery of undocumented workers.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  most of the audits have focused on the usual suspects for undocumented workers.  This includes garment makers, fruit growers, meat packers, and construction crews.    The audits will result in  the firing of every illegal immigrant on a company’s payroll.   Needless to say,  employers claim this has hurt them,.  They claim  they  can’t attract American workers, not  even during an economic downturn.  That’s quite a statement right there, although I am not quite sure how to read it.  Are the employers not telling the truth, or do American workers prefer unemployment rather than working menial jobs?  Interesting.

Small business are also claiming they cannot afford to audit workers.  While Federal Contractors, by law, must conduct E-Verify or I-9 background checks on all new employees to make sure they are eligible, other employers may have an alternate recourse.  With the E-Verify program the employer must first offer the job to the candidate.  But with a Social Security Trace, the employer can conduct this background check as part of its pre-employment screening program.   The Social Security Trace will help verify the applicant’s social security number and pretty much tell if it belongs to the candidate.  It will also provide address history.    It is a very cost effective background check, in fact a lot cheaper than facing increased fines being levied by the federal government and possible business closure.

One thing to be sure, with the economy down and the government seeking revenue and seeking to protect eligible American workers there will be more employment audits.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the ICE as it is known, will be looking harder at many businesses.   Being fined for hiring undocumented workers may prove more costly than an effective employment screening program where you include the Social Security Trace as part of your background checking program.  Losing your employees may be one thing.  Losing your business to enforced closure it quite another.

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