California Unions Speak Out Against I-9 Audits

Bay area labor unions in California are demanding that the Obama administration cease its increased practice of auditing business payroll systems in order to find workers who may be illegal immigrants, according to The Oakland Tribune.

Leaders from several unions claim that Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials are damaging immigrant families and local economies by demanding that employers share their workers’ citizenship information. The newspaper said investigators are finding the legal status of employees via Social Security numbers and green cards supplied to businesses during the hiring process. In the case of illegal immigrants, those documents are usually forged, allowing immigration officials to use I-9 audits to determine which employees are legal US residents.

ICE has drastically increased its use of I-9 audits. A New York Times investigation found that the agency audited 1,444 businesses in 2009, almost triple the number audited in 2008. In 2010, the agency audited 2,196 businesses.

“These are silent raids,” said Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente. “We know that this country was built by immigrants. These workers should have some rights.”

While the media outlet reports that audits do not usually lead to deportation for illegal workers, it usually ends with them being terminated from their position.

There are approximately 11 million illegal immigrants living and working in the US, according to the Department of Homeland Security.