Farm receives immigration audit

Agency regularly performs checks for I-9 forms

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is performing an immigration compliance audit on a local, unnamed farm.

I-9 audits are being conducted on companies all over the state, including those in Okanogan and Wenatchee, Washington Farm Labor Association Executive Director Dan Fazio said.

“Farmers got lucky this time,” Fazio said. “Many received audit notices in late August and September but were able to get through harvest without receiving termination notices.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Andrew Munoz did not reply to a Chronicle request for comment.

He said earlier that his agency doesn’t confirm or deny an audit until there is public enforcement action. Most audits are resolved without enforcement action.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said there were 3,122 I-9 audits during fiscal year 2013, with 651 orders fining employers and ordering them to stop breaking the law.

I-9 forms are required of all workers hired since immigration reform in 1986-87. The form is designed to verify a worker is in the country legally and eligible for work.

Fazio alleged the audits are “politically motivated” and don’t do anything to correct the problem since illegal workers often move from employer to employer.

He said his office generally is tipped off to audits by employers. The association offers immigration compliance training, webinars, phone and in-person training and on-site document checks.

Fazio said he’s heard Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans 2,000 additional I-9 compliance audits in January.

In 2010, Gebbers Farms was hit with immigration violations after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement audit. An estimated 550 workers were fired as a result.

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