2012 OCAHO Decisions – Trends Every Employer Should Know

In 2012, the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) issued 21 decisions. Of the 21 decisions, 11 were substantive decisions concerning alleged violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), six decisions involved Office of Special Counsel issues and four decisions were procedural. The most obvious trend in the 11 substantive decisions is the level of success that employers had in reducing the amounts of the fines/penalties sought by ICE. In seven of the 11 cases, the issue of the amount of fines was litigated and employers averaged a reduction of approximately 45%. The most common factors in the reduction of the fine were an employer’s ability to pay and/or the small size of the company. In addition, employers tended to have success when challenging I-9 fines on legal grounds. One of the surprising observations is how few cases have been litigated before OCAHO in light of the level of success achieved by employers. With the increase in the number of cases from 2010 and 2011, this fact might be changing.

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