ABC Professional Tree Services Inc. (ABC) has agreed to adhere to revised immigration compliance procedures and to pay $2 million as forfeited funds to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) related to revenue derived from the employment of illegal aliens. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas, along with Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

For its part, the United States has agreed not to criminally prosecute the company. ABC is a Houston-based company that provides right of way vegetation management for electric utilities in more than a dozen states.

HSI agents in Birmingham, Ala., began investigating ABC in early 2008 following complaints that a significant portion of the company's employees were undocumented aliens. In March 2008, agents conducted traffic stops on ABC crews and detained employees who were determined to be unlawfully present in the United States.

In June 2008, agents reviewed the Employment Eligibility Verification Forms (I-9s) and supporting documentation for about 2,500 employees at ABC. The inspection revealed that a significant number of employees who, when hired, had presented invalid personal identification information. Later, HSI agents determined that, as of the second quarter of 2009, about 30 percent of the company's workforce consisted of undocumented aliens.

Employers, you need to take the I-9 employment verification process seriously. Get yourself a copy of Personnel Concepts' I-9 Compliance Kit today to keep ICE and large fines away from your door.