In our last blog we discussed the costs of auto repair shops hiring illegal aliens, in terms of how they can impact profitability. In this blog we will discuss the crackdown on illegal aliens and the more serious risks your shop takes when it employs illegal workers, including fines, disruption, and even prison time.
Immigration authorities have been making busts at auto shops for years, sometimes choosing to make examples of auto shop owners who fail to comply with U.S. law. Under the Trump administration, however, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has drastically increased its size and activity.
In February the Department of Homeland Security issued orders, placing the majority of undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation – all 11 million of them. These orders called for the hiring of 10,000 more immigration agents and instructed agents, including Customs and Border Protection and ICE, to identify, capture, and quickly deport all undocumented immigrants they encounter. Thomas Homan, the acting director of ICE, emphasized the new focus to the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee this way:
“If you’re in this country illegally, and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”
How does current immigration policy affect your auto shop?
The most obvious impact would be the staffing issues that deportation could present to shops that employ illegal aliens. If your shop relies on workers who are targeted for deportation, your business may soon have significant staffing issues as your workers either go underground to avoid the notice of ICE agents or get deported. Can you afford the disruption to your shop that the loss of one or more workers could create? Many auto repair shops already struggle to fill key positions.
Secondly, ICE may target your business for either an audit or an immigration investigation. Currently the flow of immigrants over the border has slowed down drastically, and, after ICE accomplishes its initial deportation goals, it will have more time and staff to focus on businesses that have been employing illegal aliens. Fines for infractions have gone up over time, with recordkeeping infractions costing $2,156 per violation and $4,313 for employers who have knowingly hired undocumented workers. Repeat offenders can see penalties of over $20,000 and some employers have even been imprisoned.
ICE investigators will be targeting industries that are known to hire illegal workers, but they are also allowed to show up at any business unannounced with a Notice of Inspection and audit that business’ I-9 forms for current employees. If your auto repair shop is in a sanctuary city, your chances of being randomly chosen for this kind of audit are likely higher.
At the present time, it’s riskier than ever for companies to employ illegals. Given the current crackdown on illegal aliens, every owner should consider whether the benefit of cheaper labor from illegals is worth the cost of putting his entire business at risk.