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Abercrombie & Fitch to pay $1 million fine after I-9 audit

One more indication that the immigration enforcement environment has intensified is clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s agreement to pay a fine of more than $1 million for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act related to its obligation to verify the employment eligibility of its workers.

A Form I-9 inspection of Abercrombie & Fitch’s retail stores in Michigan conducted in November 2008 uncovered “numerous technology-related deficiencies in Abercrombie & Fitch’s electronic I-9 verification system,” according to a September 28 statement by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

ICE said Abercrombie & Fitch was fully cooperative during the investigation and the federal agency found “no instances of the knowing hire of unauthorized aliens.” The agency noted, “Since the initial inspection, Abercrombie & Fitch has taken measures to revise its immigration compliance program, and has begun to implement new procedures to prevent future violations of federal immigration laws.”

Under its new, comprehensive strategy to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce, ICE is focusing its resources on auditing and investigating employers suspected of cultivating illegal workplaces by knowingly employing illegal workers. In the last year, ICE claims to have imposed a “record number” of civil and criminal penalties against employers that violate immigration laws.

“Employers are responsible not only for the people they hire but also for the internal systems they choose to utilize to manage their employment process and those systems must result in effective compliance,” advised Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI for Ohio and Michigan.