More than 2,000 workers have lost their jobs in the Minneapolis area alone in the past 18 months, thanks to widespread immigration audits that are part of a government crack down on illegal immigrants working in the United States.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been stepping up its efforts in the area, beginning audits on at least nine companies in the Twin Cities area. StarTribune.com reports that one of the companies, Harvard Maintenance Inc., a New York firm with operations in Minnesota, is being forced to dismiss about 240 cleaners, more than half its local work force, following an I-9 audit of its Twin Cities offices.
Meanwhile, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. was recently the target of an extensive audit, and was forced to fire 450 workers in Minnesota and 40 in Washington DC. More quit voluntarily before they were asked to resign.
The audits are the focal point of a White House strategy to hold employers responsible for illegal workers, rather than prosecuting the workers themselves who are sometimes picked up in worksite raids. There's a definite shift away from arresting undocumented workers, and toward targeting employers who hire them. The government determines which companies to target through information found during audits of company employment records.
The number of these types of audits has jumped more than 50 percent since President Obama came into office, and the average fine has increased about 30 percent. In addition, criminal arrests of employers have increased 45 percent. Of the 196 employers arrested last year, 42 have been sent to prison so far, with many cases still pending.
Next: How to Check Your Employment Eligibility
Related Stories from Readers Digest