Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials report that they conducted 2,200 on-site audits of businesses in FY 2010 to verify employees’ eligibility to work in the United States, resulting in a record $50 million-plus in fines.

ICE, the enforcement wing of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), no longer stages round-ups of suspected illegal immigrants at just farms, factories and car washes. Even white collar retailers such as Abercrombie and Fitch have been stung, with that clothing retailer being socked with a $1.04 million levy.

However, the focus is now completely different. No longer do armed ICE agents storm the premises and hog-collar suspected illegals. The target is now the human resources and accounting departments, where records are audited and compared, especially the USCIS employee eligibility form called the I-9.

When all is said and done, if there are undocumented employees on the payroll, the firm is fined, but ICE does not seize or attempt to deport the illegals. It is left to the employer to fire them, and if he doesn’t, he can face criminal charges.

Now here’s the scary part: Anything uncovered during the visit will be shared with other federal agencies. Thus an employer could be fined for hiring undocumented workers, and then he could be audited by the IRS, visited by OSHA, or sued by the Department of Labor (DOL) for wage, hour and overtime violations

Employers, protect yourself. Obtain a copy of Personnel Concepts’ I-9 Compliance Kit today.