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Enforcement efforts to focus on prosecuting employers that violate immigration law, ICE official tells House Judiciary Committee

While arresting and removing undocumented workers must be part of any strategy to deter unlawful immigration, enforcement efforts focused on employers effectively targets the root causes of illegal immigration, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deputy director Kumar Kibble, testifying on January 26, 2011, before the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee on workplace enforcement of U.S. immigration law. Kibble told the Congressional subcommittee that ICE is focused on investigating and prosecuting employers who exploit or abuse their employees and have a history of knowingly and repeatedly hiring illegal workers.

Reviewing the agency’s workplace enforcement statistics, Kibble noted that in FY 2010, ICE initiated a record 2,746 worksite enforcement investigations, criminally arrested 196 employers for worksite-related violations, and issued a record 2,196 notices of inspection to employers. In addition, worksite investigations resulted in nearly $37 million in judicial fines, forfeitures, and restitutions. ICE also debarred 97 business and 49 individuals from doing business with the government, thereby bringing a new level of integrity to the contracting process, according to Kibble.

ICE’s highest priority is on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers, abuse and exploit their workers, engage in the smuggling or trafficking of their alien workforce, or facilitate document or benefit fraud. The agency’s efforts also include identifying, investigating, and penalizing employers who engage in visa or labor certification fraud. In addition to enforcement efforts, however, ICE is providing compliance tools to assist employers in determining the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S.

Kibble claimed that the Obama administration also is making “unprecedented efforts” to strengthen immigration enforcement and border security. At current budget levels, ICE has the ability to remove approximately 400,000 undocumented aliens in a fiscal year.

The agency has prioritized the identification and removal of criminals and others who present the greatest threat to our communities.