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ICE continuing to conduct I-9 audits across the nation

When most of us envision the potential troubles faced by undocumented immigrants here in the U.S. on a daily basis, our thoughts almost immediately go to detention and deportation by federal officials. While this is certainly not inaccurate, it doesn't account for more mundane yet incredibly important issues like education, health care and, of course, employment.

To illustrate some of the employment challenges facing undocumented immigrants, consider a situation in the state of Washington where hundreds of hard-working men and women are now in danger of losing their jobs thanks to a recently completed I-9 audit by officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In an I-9 audit, ICE officials conduct a comprehensive review of payroll records to uncover any discrepancies concerning immigration status. Upon completion of the audit, employees have ten days to provide the necessary information to clear up any problems.

Those employers found to have violated the law can face everything from fines to perhaps even criminal charges.

Touted by ICE as a means of deterring companies from hiring undocumented immigrants, the number of I-9 audits performed has reached into the thousands under the Obama Administration.

For their part, immigrant advocacy groups have long denounced the audits, arguing that they only serve to push more undocumented immigrants underground and cause unwarranted business disruption.

Regarding the situation in Washington, 900 employees of an apple-packing plant located in Cashmere were informed last Friday that ICE had recently completed an I-9 audit and that employees with payroll discrepancies had the requisite 10 days to complete an immigration-information form included with their latest -- and perhaps last -- paycheck.

While no formal numbers were released by ICE or the apple company, one worker estimated that at many as 90 percent of workers had been notified of potential issues.

The situation has understandably frustrated many undocumented immigrants who feel betrayed after spending years working for the company for relatively low wages and poor benefits only to be suddenly laid off.

"All these years with the company only to find out they're throwing us out," said one longtime employee.

Stay tuned for updates ...

Whether you are facing the prospect of deportation or would like to learn more about your options concerning a work visa or any other immigration-related issue, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can explain the law, outline your options and protect your best interests.

Source: Fox News Latino, "After immigration audit, 90% of workers at apple-packing plant in WA asked to prove status," May 12, 2014 

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