Drivers’ Licenses and Undocumented Workers
With the added impetus on I-9 worksite enforcement over the past several years, employers have been held increasingly accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities with regard to the Form I-9. Now it seems that ICE has added to those responsibilities as they pertain to state drivers’ licenses…more specifically to those states that allow undocumented residents to obtain licenses or similar identification documents.
There are currently 8 states that issue such documents to residents, regardless of whether or not they can produce proof that they are lawfully present in the U.S. This current list of states includes: Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. There are 3 additional states and the District of Columbia that have passed measures which will take effect in the near future. These include: California–effective January, 2015, Colorado–effective August, 2014, Connecticut–effective January, 2015, and the District of Columbia–effective May, 2014.
While many of these documents contain language intended to place restrictions on their usage, such as “Not Valid for Identification”, or “Not Acceptable for Federal Purposes”, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS), has indicated these documents are acceptable for the purposes of Section 2 of the Form I-9. However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE), has stated that employers will be held to higher degree of responsibility when accepting such documents. Basically, ICE indicates that they may take into account that an employer knew, or should have known they were hiring undocumented workers based on acceptance of these documents.
This line of enforcement is new and as such has not yet been put to the test in practice. As more states are added to the list of those distributing this documentation, some clarification on the enforcement position will no doubt follow. Stay tuned.
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