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US immigration agency intensifies employer monitoring efforts

[JURIST] The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [official website] agency on Wednesday issued [press release] inspection notices to 652 businesses in an increased effort to target employers that use illegal labor. ICE notified selected employers that they would be auditing their I-9 [text, PDF] employee eligibility forms, which employers are required to file and retain for each employee. Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE John Morton [official profile] said that the measure was "first step in ICE's long-term strategy to address and deter illegal employment" and that the agency is "committed to establishing a meaningful I-9 inspection program to promote compliance with the law." The audit reflects a shift in focus [JURIST report] in federal immigration enforcement, from workplace raids to targeting employers directly, announced last month by US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] Secretary Janet Napolitano [official profile] during a speech [transcript] at the Aspen Institute [organization website].

In March, the administration proposed an overhaul [press release] of US immigration policy. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] vacated [order, PDF; JURIST report] an order [text, PDF] by former attorney general Michael Mukasey [JURIST news archive] that had denied those facing deportation the right to challenge immigration decisions based on ineffective assistance of counsel claims. In February, Napolitano called for a review [JURIST report] of workplace raids conducted by ICE agents. ICE has arrested [JURIST report] many non-criminal illegal immigrants in the past year, many of whom were imprisoned [JURIST report]. In April 2008, Seton Hall Law School's Center for Social Justice filed a lawsuit [Star-Ledger report] claiming that warrantless immigration raids violate the US Constitution.

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