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First Texas Republican Is Appointed To Lead The Judiciary Committee. What Does This Mean For I-9 Enforcement?

by Dawn Lurie And Kevin Lashus

[Editor's Note: today's blog is courtesy of Dawn Lurie and Kevin Lashus of Greenberg Traurig] Today, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) was appointed by the Republican congressional leadership as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. This is important to Form I-9 verification compliance officers and their counsel for several reasons:

(1) The House Judiciary Committee is the second oldest standing committee in Congress, and has oversight responsibility for the Department of Justice AND the Department of Homeland Security;

(2) The Chairman is a proponent of the 2007 Arizona law that allows the state to revoke the business licenses of employers that refuse to incorporate E-Verify into their on-boarding process;

(3) The Chairman has been quite vocal that, although increased worksite audits can result in significant fines, most employers consider the administrative fines assessed as, just the cost of doing business; and,

(4) The Chairman is of the opinion that, by virtue of her prior position as Solicitor General for the United States, Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from any Supreme Court decision resulting from the Arizona litigation.

Chairman Smith today also announced his priorities for the committee under his leadership:

As Chairman of the Committee, I will focus on efforts to strengthen national security, protect intellectual property, prevent frivolous lawsuits and keep children safe from Internet sex predators. The Judiciary Committee will support industries that employ millions of Americans by protecting their patents and copyrights. And, we will promote worksite enforcement efforts that make sure scarce jobs go to legal workers.

The Judiciary Committee also oversees two federal agencies that help prevent terrorist attacks. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security should have the resources necessary to keep America safe. As Chairman, I am committed to strenuous oversight of the Obama Administration. We need to make sure that our laws are equally enforced, criminals are prosecuted and enemy combatants are kept off of American soil.

What does this mean for employers? Based on recent public statements, we anticipate that the Committee will hold hearings on the number and result of recent administrative worksite audits and the fines assessed. The Chairman believes that the Obama Administration needs to be held responsible for its decision to allow ICE to turn [illegal workers] loose in the community to compete with U.S. citizens and legal immigrants for other jobs, rather than arrest them at the worksite. In fact, the Chairman has repeatedly said, When ICE does engage in worksite enforcement actions, it allows the illegal workers [to] simply walk down the street to the next employer to seek employment. If the federal government is abdicating its responsibility to enforce our immigration laws, how can the administration protest when individual states seek to protect their residents?

Ultimately, employers should expect a mix of continued Obama era I-9 fine assessments and investigations, with Bush era oversight and desire for unauthorized employees to be permanently removed from the workforce. In other words, a Republican Committee and a Democratic Administration means increased hearings and scrutiny.

Looks like there is a new sheriff in town . . .

Orginally Published By LawLogix Group, Inc. Reprinted By Permission.

About The Author

Dawn Lurie advises corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly I-9 alien employment verification matters and the minimization of exposure and liabilities. She develops immigration compliance strategies and programs for both small and large companies alike. Dawn performs I-9, H-1B and H-2B compliance inspections during routine internal reviews, while performing due diligence (in the context of a merger, acquisition or sale) or while defending a company against a government investigation.

Kevin Lashus is a Senior Attorney with Foster Quan, LLP, in its Austin office. He is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Lashus is a graduate of Stanford University and The University of Texas School of Law. He remains an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas School of Law teaching a Spring seminar on "Emerging Issues in National Security Law". Mr. Lashus moved on to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002, and, in 2003, became Assistant Chief Counsel with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he remained until 2007 in its San Francisco office and, most recently, its Minneapolis/Saint Paul office-advising special agents during national security investigations, criminal immigration prosecutions, and worksite enforcement actions. Mr. Lashus was a member of the National Security Team. He has published numerous articles including: Kevin Lashus, Robert Loughran, & Magali Candler, Fear the ICE Man: Lessons From the Swift Raids to Warm You Up-The New Government Perspective on Employer Sanctions, 32 Nova L. Rev. 2 at 391 (Spring 2008).

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.