Kerry Bretz Comments on ICE’s Efforts to Step Up Crackdown on Companies That Employ Undocumented Immigrants

Friday, October 27, 2017

New York, New York — In response to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan's recent announcement that the agency will increase its workplace enforcement by criminally prosecuting companies who willfully and knowingly hire undocumented immigrants, Kerry Bretz, Partner, Bretz & Coven, LLP, says that it is crucial that employers seek the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer who can protect their legal rights, guide them through I-9 compliance and sanctions, and petition for valuable employees, regardless of the size of the business.

On October 17, 2017, in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Mr. Homan announced that he has been instructed to increase ICE's workplace enforcement efforts by up to fivefold. According to Mr. Homan, employers who hire immigrants — who they know entered the country illegally — will be strongly prosecuted and those workers will be subject to arrest and deportation. ICE Spokeswoman Danielle Bennett stated the increase in workplace enforcement will include pursuing more investigations and conducting more I-9 audits.

Employer sanctions began under the Reagan administration when the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) went into effect. IRCA prohibits employers from hiring, recruiting, or referring for a fee non-citizens who were not authorized to work in the U.S. Employers are required to verify each employee’s identity and eligibility to work through the completion and maintenance of an Employment Eligibility Form (I-9). An employer’s failure to complete and maintain an I-9 for each employee may subject them to civil fines or criminal penalties when there is a pattern or practice of violations.

“When ICE agents enter a business and ask for I-9s and permission to interview employees, most employers and managers are scared and say ‘yes,’” said Mr. Bretz. “However, ICE agents are not entitled to enter a workplace or job site without a warrant. They will serve the business notice, and the employer will have three days to produce the I-9s and hire an immigration attorney. Employers may want to find out if they can petition for valuable employees. Workers may wish to explore their options.”

For more information, call (212) 267-2555 or visit





About Bretz & Coven, LLP

Bretz & Coven, LLP is an immigration law firm located in New York, New York and Clark, New Jersey. The firm serves clients in and around the tri-state area, including Brooklyn, New York City, the Bronx, Queens, Kings County and Richmond County. Its team of dedicated attorneys is known for taking on cases that other lawyers turn down. Bretz & Coven assists individuals and their families understand the process of obtaining citizenship, New York residency or a green card and offer them a full range of options, including adjustment of status, asylum, available types of visas, waivers, removal defense and special programs and treaties. The attorneys can also help immigrants avoid deportation. For more information, call (212) 267-2555 or visit