ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division greatly expanded criminal investigations, business audits and arrests in fiscal year 2018. HSI conducted 6,848 worksite investigations compared to 1,691 in FY17, initiated 5,981 I-9 audits compared to 1,360; and made 779 criminal and 1,525 administrative arrests compared to 139 and 172.

While employer criminal indictments and convictions were consistent with previous years, the numbers are expected to rise due to ongoing investigations that time to fully develop. HSI indicted 72 managers and convicted 49 managers in FY 18, compared to 71 and 55 in FY17.

Businesses were ordered to pay over $10.2 million in judicial fines, forfeitures and restitutions in FY18. HSI also set another $10.2 million in civil penalties.

Announcing the numbers, HSI Executive Associate Director Derek Benner said, “Employers who use an illegal workforce as part of their business model put businesses that do follow the law at a competitive disadvantage. HSI is committed to upholding the laws that govern worksite enforcement. These laws help protect jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, reduce the incentive of illegal migration, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and ultimately help strengthen public safety and national security.”

Benner is hiring 60 additional auditors to add to the 120 auditors currently conducting worksite audits. He’s trying to change the notion that businesses are unlikely to be audited. "People feel there's a pretty good chance that their (income tax) return is going to be audited by a computer or seen by human eyes," Benner said. "People at some point will feel like there's a legitimate possibility that ICE ... is actually going to come audit their employment records."

Updated: Wed, Dec 26th 2018 @ 3:45pm EST