Recently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it was creating a new center to substantially increase the number of I-9 form audits it conducts of businesses.
Though the increase in paper audits come at the expense of worksite raids, the audits are having an impact on the hiring of illegal immigrants. According to ICE, in the last fiscal year, it conducted audits of more than 2,700 companies. When illegal immigrants are discovered during the audits, the companies terminate them. Just this week, the fast-food chain Chipotle in Minnesota terminated 350–700 (accounts differ) of the 1,200 workers when ICE audits revealed the illegal immigrant status of the workers. The restaurants replaced the illegal immigrants workers with citizens or legal immigrants.
In other promising news, several states—including Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming—are looking to adopt legislation similar to Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Legislators in those states have introduced legislation, and debates on those bills are underway. Arizona SB 1070 is currently making its way through the legal system. A precursor piece of Arizona legislation, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, is currently under U.S. Supreme Court review, with a decision on its legality expected any day.
One area of uncertainty is what the Obama Administration will do to secure the border now that it has canceled the SBInet program. The SBInet program never lived up to its expectations, but the increased focus on the border with technology added another layer of security that border crossers, drug runners, and gangs had to navigate to enter the United States. The Obama Administration did not announce any replacement program when it canceled SBInet. Thus, we will have to await the rollout of the next budget to find out what plans the Obama Administration has for securing the border.