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Justice Department increases fines for employers that violate immigration, I-9 rules

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Employers that run afoul of federal immigration laws will face stiffer civil fines—up to $5,000 more per violation—starting March 27, the U.S. Justice Department announced last week.

Employers can be fined under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act for knowingly employing unauthorized aliens, failing to complete I-9 verification forms correctly or wrongfully discriminating against employees or applicants on the basis of their nationality.

The steeper penalties are the result of the first adjustment for inflation of civil immigration penalties since 1999. The average increase is about 25%. For example, the minimum penalty for knowingly employing an undocumented immigrant increases from $275 to $375. The maximum penalty for a first violation will rise from $2,200 to $3,200.

The biggest increase under the rounding mechanism raises the maximum civil penalty for multiple violations from $11,000 to $16,000. These penalties are assessed on a per-alien basis. Thus, an employer that knowingly employs five unauthorized aliens could be hit with five $16,000 fines.

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