Immigration Reform:

Status of Implementing Employer Sanctions After Second Year

GGD-89-16: Published: Nov 15, 1988. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 1988.

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In response to a legislative requirement, GAO surveyed implementation and enforcement of the Immigration Reform and Control Act's (IRCA) employer sanction provisions to determine whether the: (1) Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and other federal agencies satisfactorily carried out IRCA; and (2) provisions caused a widespread pattern of discrimination against U.S. citizens or others or created an unnecessary regulatory burden on employers.

GAO found that: (1) although INS continued to educate employers while increasing enforcement, 22 percent of the employers GAO surveyed were not aware of IRCA, and 20 percent did not clearly understand major IRCA provisions; (2) as of September 1988, INS had recorded 452 violations for employing unauthorized aliens and about 4,700 violations for not completing required forms; and (3) about half of the 1.9 million employers who were aware of the law hired at least one employee who had not completed the required form. GAO also found that: (1) INS did not systematically analyze data on unauthorized aliens' use of counterfeit documents; (2) INS did not distinguish between employers who voluntarily complied with the act before receiving a notice of inspection and those that it brought into compliance through inspection; and (3) INS and the Department of Labor (DOL) did not consistently review employers' payroll records to verify that there were no other employees hired who had not completed the required form. In addition, GAO found that: (1) the number of discrimination charges filed with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and data on IRCA-related discrimination did not establish a pattern of discrimination; and (2) there was insufficient information to determine whether the employer sanction provisions caused an unnecessary regulatory burden.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS has not revised its field manual, but sent out a wire instructing field agents to check auxillary records during I-9 compliance reviews. The wire is binding until the manual is revised.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to revise the guidance to INS investigators to require them to follow reasonable steps, such as requesting employer payroll records, to determine if all required I-9 forms have been prepared.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The training manual was revised in December 1988. Field manual changes were issued in August 1989.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Wage and Hour Division and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to ensure that reasonable steps, such as reviewing employer records, are taken to determine if all required I-9 forms have been prepared.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 1989, P.L. 101-162 was enacted which provided OSC $1 million for education.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Special Counsel to develop, in conjunction with other federal agencies, including EEOC, INS, and DOL, a coordinated strategy to educate the public about the IRCA antidiscrimination provision and develop a plan for carrying out the strategy, including a budget. OSC should submit this information to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget for consideration during the federal budget process because no specific appropriation exists for education and more than one agency is involved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The information system needed to fully carry out this recommendation has not been implemented. As an interim measure, INS has modified its data collection form to capture this information. The GAO report recommends implementation of the needed information system. Therefore, this recommendation can be better tracked by monitoring the recommendation in the third annual report.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to modify the General Administrative Plan to measure compliance at the beginning of the inspection.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS has made document fraud a priority, but the data that will be gathered has not been fully determined. GAO intent of raising the issue to an agency priority has been achieved.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to begin systematically evaluating data on the extent to which unauthorized aliens are using counterfeit or fraudulent documents to complete the I-9 form, including the types of documents used.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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