When Immigration Matters

McDonald's Franchisee Pays $400k for Hiring Undocumented Manager

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sat, Nov 03, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

WICHITA, KAN. – A local McDonald's Franchisee has agreed to plead guilty to an immigration charge after a federal investigation showed that the manager of one of its McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita was an undocumented worker, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced on October 31, 2012.

McCalla Corporation, a McDonald’s franchisee with offices at 9342 E. Central in Wichita, was charged today with one felony count of knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document offered as proof that an employee was eligible to work. As part of the plea agreement, the corporation has agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, and an additional $100,000 forfeiture judgment.

The case is the second time in two months that a Kansas company has been charged with knowingly employing undocumented workers. In the other case, the owners of two hotels in Overland Park, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., were charged with knowingly hiring undocumented workers for housekeeping jobs.

I-9, USCIS“Employment is the primary driving force behind illegal immigration,” Grissom said. “I’m calling on all Kansas employers to strengthen their hiring practices and to help us safeguard this nation by hiring and maintaining a lawful workforce.”

Employers that try to cut costs and gain an economic advantage over competitors by means of unlawful hiring practices are causing problems in Kansas and across the nation, Grissom said.

“Businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers are putting us all at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “They are creating a marketplace for unauthorized workers who may resort to presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits and even stealing the identities of legal U.S. workers.”

According to an agent’s affidavit filed in federal court, the investigation began in February 2011 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security received information that McCalla Corporation employed undocumented workers. McCalla Corporation owns McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita at 1630 S. Hillside, 11989 E. Kellogg, 501 E. Pawnee, 1219 S. Rock Road, 2418 S. Seneca and 1645 S. Webb Road.

In its agreement to plead guilty, McCalla Corporation admitted that in March 2011 the company’s director of operations became aware that one of its store managers was using a Social Security number not assigned to her. He told the McDonald’s store manager she needed to provide him new documents to confirm her eligibility to work.

Two days later, the store manager presented a resident alien identification card. The director of operations knew the new card was not genuine. He knew that it takes weeks, not just two days, for a foreign national to obtain a resident alien card. Nevertheless, he updated the store manager’s paperwork and McCalla Corporation took no further action concerning her employment. The store manager continued working as a store manager from May 2009 to September 2012.

Grissom said he expects McCalla Corporation to enter the guilty plea within the next three weeks, as the court’s schedule permits.
“ICE is committed to holding businesses accountable when they knowingly hire or retain illegal workers,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago. “Employers who willfully violate our nation’s hiring laws gain an unfair economic advantage over law abiding competitors. Our goal is to protect job opportunities for the nation’s legal workers and level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules.”

For more information about how employers can help with immigration enforcement, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site at www.uscis.gov and click on E-verify.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated with the assistance of the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Expert Analysis on the E-Verify Program

Posted by Michael Pollak on Mon, Apr 09, 2012 @ 1:06 PM

Immigration Attorney, Karen-Lee Pollak provides expert analysis on the E-Verify Program publishing, The E-Verify Program: Is It All It’s Cracked Up To Be? in Law360.

Law360 is an American online media company based in New York City that publishes news and analysis on business law for its online subscribers. Current subscribers include each of the top 100 law firms in the U.S., corporate legal departments and major federal and state agencies. All told, the company provides litigation news and analysis to over 100,000 attorneys and 1,400 organizations.

E-VerifyE-Verify is an online, fully electronic federal database used for verifying if an employee is eligible to lawfully work in the United States. According to some reports, currently more than 60,000 businesses use E-Verify with over 1,000 signing up each week. Although E-Verify is mostly voluntary, E-Verify is required by law in some states, is required by federal contractors and federal agencies and subcontractors and some employers.

The strongest argument in favor of the use of the E-Verify program is that it protects employers where new hires present fraudulent identity documents. With E-Verify, even if a new hire passes the I-9 test by presenting the required documents to lawfully work in the U.S., E-Verify can detect if the document belongs to someone else or is fraudulent because it cannot be matched to a proper record in the Social Security or U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s databases.

However, the E-Verify program is not without its flaws. E-Verify is often criticized for high error rates and negatively affecting hiring practices. The sharpest criticism of E-Verify is that, while itverifies a match between a social security number and a name, it still has no way of knowing if the person actually presenting the information is in fact the person they say they are. As a result, the system is subject to an unauthorized worker using borrowed or stolen identity documents. A study conducted by Westat estimated in 2009 that 54 percent of unauthorized workers screened through E-Verify were incorrectly confirmed by the system because they used borrowed or stolen identity data.

Another common criticism is that E-Verify cannot reliably detect whether an employer is using the program consistently. If an employer enrolls in the E-Verify program, they are required to use the program for all new hires. An employer may only be using the program for those workers it suspects to be unauthorized thereby engaging in discriminatory hiring practices. Even worse, an employer may be enabling the hiring of unauthorized workers by not using the program for those workers it suspects do not have proper work authorization.

The program has also been criticized because it erroneously nonconfirms some legal workers and imposes additional time and costs on employers. Because of user and database error, E-Verify does not always successfully confirm the work eligibility of citizens or permanent residents lawfully allowed to work. Sometimes a nonimmigrant who was not lawfully allowed to work has now become a permanent resident and is allowed to work. There also may be false social security mismatches where a person has changed their name as a result of marriage. These status changes may not be properly recorded in the federal databases.

While it is true that these errors may be remedied, often to do so means taking several hours off work to visit various federal offices to correct these errors and that is only if employers advise the new hire of the glitch. Sometimes employers do not notify prospective new hires of these glitches because they have improperly used E-Verify to prescreen job applicants. Therefore, some employers avoid hiring or terminate legal workers because of E-Verify errors. There is also growing concern that E-Verify will expose individuals to greater identity theft as more people and agencies have access to this database.

So what can we do to perfect this system? Both the Bush and Obama administrations have created a photo-matching tool to determine if a photo identification document presented by a worker matches the photograph in the E-Verify system. While this is a step in the right direction, it only applies to those workers who present documents with photo identification that evidence work authorization such as permanent residency cards or U.S. passports. As a result, some employers are unlawfully requesting that employees present certain documents as part of the employment verification process either to bypass the photo-matching tool or to ensure that it is used.

To combat these disadvantages, some lawmakers are suggesting that all workers provide biometrics that can be matched to the E-Verify system. For this to work, E-Verify would have to become mandatory for all employers. There are also constitutional concerns with requiring all workers to be fingerprinted in order to be allowed to work in the U.S. Such a proposition smacks of George Orwell’s “Big Brother is watching,” not to mention the exorbitant cost to fingerprint every worker.

While the E-Verify program is good in theory, we cannot make it mandatory until we iron out its quirks, impose civil and criminal penalties for improper use of the E-Verify system and most importantly create a path to lawful work authorization for those illegal workers in the United States. Making E-Verify mandatory without immigration reform will simply move more illegal workers off the radar, as they will no longer pay taxes and employers will simply take them off the payroll to avoid detection resulting in lower wages and less taxes paid to the government.

E-Verify Self Check Goes Live | Immigration Law

Posted by Karen Pollak on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 @ 7:42 PM

immigration lawyer dallas txSelf Check gives workers fast and secure access to their employment eligibility information before they apply for jobs.  In this way, workers are able to identify whether there are any inaccuracies in their Social Security Administration or DHS records before they seek employment, and submit corrections for any inaccuracies ahead of time. Self Check also assists employers by reducing the number of tentative mismatches that could otherwise result when a worker’s government records are not updated. 

Every aspect of E-Verify Self Check was designed to secure users’ personally identifiable information and to prevent misuse of the service.  For example, E-Verify Self Check uses an identity assurance process to confirm that the person attempting to run a check is who he or she claims to be to avoid fraud or abuse.

Beginning today, the E-Verify Self Check service is available to users who maintain an address and are physically located in Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia or the District of Columbia. In the coming months, USCIS will continue to expand the E-Verify Self Check service to additional eligible users on a rolling basis.

Read more at: http://blog.uscis.gov/2011/03/introducing-e-verify-self-check-online.html

GAO Recommendations on E-Verify | Immigration Law

Posted by Karen Pollak on Sat, Jan 22, 2011 @ 10:15 AM

About the Study

GAOE-Verify is a system to electronically verify work eligibility and operated by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). GAO testified in June 2008 that ensuring accuracy and combating fraud were challenges facing E-Verify. As requested, GAO examined the extent to which USCIS and SSA took efforts to (1) reduce tentative nonconfirmations (TNC) and E-Verify’s vulnerability to fraud, (2) safeguard employee personal information, and (3) prepare for possible mandatory use by all employers nationwide. GAO reviewed key policy and procedural documents, interviewed relevant DHS and SSA officials, and conducted site visits to three states selected, in part, based on employer types.

Recommendations

GAO recommends, among other things, that USCIS disseminate information to employees on the importance of consistently recording their names, DHS components develop procedures to help employees correct inaccurate personal information, USCIS develop reliable cost estimates for E-Verify, and SSA assess risks associated with its E-Verify workload costs. DHS and SSA generally agreed with most of GAO’s recommendations. SSA disagreed that it should assess risks associated with its workload costs because it believes it already does so. GAO believes the recommendation is valid because SSA’s risk estimate has limitations as discussed in the report.

View Highlights

Full Report

Inside the Minds: Employing International Workers, 2010 ed

Posted by Michael Pollak on Fri, May 28, 2010 @ 10:20 AM

The official release date for Inside the Minds: Employing International Workers, 2010 ed is now June 2010. The book will will be available in bookstores nationwide.

Immigration Attorney, Karen Pollak was selected as a contributing author based upon her experience and C-level standing within the professional community.  Her article "Key Issues an Employer Needs to Understand When Sponsoring an Employee for a Non-Immigrant Visa or Green Card" will appear in the 2010 edition.

Inside the Minds: Employing International Workers, 2010 ed

Employing International Workers provides an authoritative, insider's perspective on counseling clients on the opportunities and challenges of hiring foreign employees. Featuring partners from law firms across the country, these experts guide the reader through the latest developments in the recruiting and hiring process, with an emphasis on worker trends, strategies for multinational firms, increased enforcement activity, and the impact of today's economic and political culture on immigration policies.

They discuss the intricacies involved in handling complex immigration matters for corporate clients and offer proven recommendations for navigating the visa process and working with immigration authorities and international recruits. From filling out I-9 forms and filing H-1Bs to creating a compliance manual and understanding E-Verify, these top lawyers give tips on following a thorough compliance program and understanding immigration requirements once a foreign employee is hired. Additionally, these leaders reveal their tips for educating clients on immigration, avoiding penalties, and weighing the benefits and costs of hiring international workers.

The different niches represented and the breadth of perspectives presented enable readers to get inside some of the great legal minds of today, as these experienced lawyers offer up their thoughts around the keys to success within this dynamic field. Inside the Minds provides readers with proven business intelligence from C-Level executives and lawyers (Chairman, CEO, CFO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and firms nationwide.

Each chapter is comparable to an essay/thought leadership piece and is a future-oriented look at where an industry, profession, or topic is heading and the most important issues for the future.

USCIS Update for Documentation Employers & Temporary Protected Status Beneficiaries

Posted by Michael Pollak on Mon, May 17, 2010 @ 10:03 AM

USCISTemporary Protected Status (TPS) is an immigration benefit granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to eligible individuals in the United States who are nationals of a country (or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in such country) that has been designated for TPS.  A country may be designated for TPS on the basis of on-going armed conflict, environmental disaster or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent such nationals from safely returning to their homelands.  TPS is granted to eligible individuals from the designated countries for time-limited periods, depending on the length of the country designation or an extension of that designation.

Individuals who have been granted TPS may work in the United States and may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An EAD is a plastic, credit card-sized document that shows proof of the individual's authorization to work in the United States and contains a photograph of the individual. 

When securing employment in the United States, TPS beneficiaries, like any other individual whom an employer hires, will be requested by their employers to attest to their authorization to work in the United States using the USCIS form, Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9.  To complete the Form I-9 process, they also must present to their employers a document or combination of documents of the employees' choosing evidencing their identity and employment authorization from the list of acceptable documents. 

The EAD issued to TPS beneficiaries by USCIS is one of the documents listed as acceptable for the Form I-9.  This document establishes both identity and employment authorization under "List A" of the Form I-9.  The expiration date on the card is usually the end of the TPS period for which the bearer last registered.  When DHS extends a specific TPS country designation, it sometimes issues a Federal Register notice containing a temporary blanket automatic extension of expiring EADs for TPS beneficiaries from that country to allow time for USCIS to issue new EADs with updated validity dates. The USCIS Web site and the Federal Register notice will describe this EAD auto-extension and will note the date when the auto-extension ends.  The auto-extension is typically for 6 months, but the time period can vary. 

This Fact Sheet provides guidance to employees and employers on the treatment of auto-extended EADs issued to TPS beneficiaries when completing the Form I-9 process.

Employers

If presented for completion of Form I-9 by your employee, you must accept a TPS-related EAD that is expired on its face if it nevertheless remains unexpired based on an auto-extension of the EAD by DHS as announced in a notice published in the Federal Register. Also, the card must reasonably appear on its face to be genuine and to relate to the employee presenting it to be acceptable.  The following information will appear on the card:

scan of an employment id card showing 2 characteristics employers should look for

  1. The notation "A-12" or "C-19" appears on the face of the EAD under "Category."
  2. The expiration date of the most recent TPS extension period on the face of the card. This date will appear in the Federal Register notice announcing the auto-extension of EADs and may also be found at www.uscis.gov/tps.

Employers should enter the document name, number, and expiration date in Section 2 under List A, noting the end of the auto-extension period. You may not request that an employee provide proof that he or she is a national of a country that has been designated for TPS. 

When the automatic extension of the EAD expires, you must reverify the employee's employment authorization. The employee may choose to present an unexpired EAD with an updated expiration date, or any other document from List A or C of Form I-9 evidencing that he or she continues to be authorized to work in the United States. You should enter the document name, number and expiration date in Section 3 of the Form I-9.

In addition to completing the Form I-9 process described above, employers that participate in E-Verify may also confirm the employment authorization of the TPS beneficiary by submitting the required data from the Form I-9 to E-Verify.  However, the employer may only check the employment authorization of new hires through E-Verify.  If the TPS beneficiary is a current employee, the employer may not use E-Verify to confirm employment authorization and should complete only the reverification required in Section 3 of the Form I-9.

Employees

If you are a TPS beneficiary and have been issued a TPS-based EAD, your EAD will contain the notation "A-12" or "C-19" under "Category" and an expiration date for the last TPS designation or extension of TPS for your country.  When completing the Form I-9 for your employer, you may choose to present this EAD as evidence of both your identity and employment authorization under List A of the form if the card is unexpired.  Once the expiration date on the face of your card is reached, your EAD is no longer acceptable for the Form I-9, unless DHS has automatically extended the expiration date of your card in a notice published in the Federal Register.  Your card will remain valid through the auto-extension period stated in the Federal Register notice and must be accepted by your employer for completion of the Form I-9.  You may want to provide your employer with a copy of the Federal Register notice stating the automatic extension of your EAD, in case your employer is not aware that he or she may accept your EAD. 

If you choose to present your auto-extended, TPS-based EAD to your employer, your employer will be required to reverify your employment authorization on Section 3 of Form I-9 at the end of the automatic EAD extension period.  At that time, you must present your employer with either your new TPS-related EAD containing an updated, valid expiration date, or any other acceptable document from List A or C evidencing that you continue to be authorized for employment in the United States. 

Contact Information

For additional information about TPS, please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5273 or visit the USCIS Web site at www.uscis.gov/tps to find:

  • General TPS information;
  • A list of countries currently designated for TPS;
  • Links to Federal Register notices for TPS designated countries; and
  • Each designated country's:
    • Most recent designation date;
    • Current expiration date;
    • Current registration period; and
    • Duration of the country's automatic extension of EADs.

Employers seeking information about accepting documents from TPS beneficiaries may contact the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) Employer Hotline at 1-800-255-8155 or visit the DOJ Web site at www.justice.gov/crt/osc.

Employees should contact the Office of Special Council Employee Hotline at 1-800-255-7688 or visit the Web site at www.justice.gov/crt/osc if:

  • You believe your employer is treating you in a discriminatory manner based on your immigration or TPS status, or based on your national origin; or
  • Your employer will not allow you to work despite having presented your employer with your valid, auto-extended TPS EAD, or your presentation of other documents acceptable for the Form I-9.

USCIS Director Mayorkas Confirms E-Verify Changes Coming

Posted by Michael Pollak on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 @ 4:20 PM
As part of an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, Alejandro Mayorkas the newly minted Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sounded alarm bells on Monday over the possible expiration of a program used to verify the legal status of workers in the country.  The E-Verify program is set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress reauthorizes it.  This is significant because the USCIS is already considering changes in E-Verify on the assumption Congress eventually will pass comprehensive immigration reform that would give legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the country. This raises questions about how the agency can handle the anticipated rise in inquiries to check a worker's immigration status against Homeland Security Department and Social Security Administration databases.  Read more in Chris Strohm's article, Official:  E-Verify Changes are int the works appearing in Congress Daily.

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