The Obama administration has extended its crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants, notifying 500 companies across the nation in recent weeks that the government will inspect their hiring records. The audits of employee records by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can result in civil and criminal penalties and can lead firms to lose large numbers of employees, face lower productivity and steep legal fees. Since January 2009, ICE has audited almost 6,000 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor and imposed more than $72 million in sanctions. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, approximately $11 million illegal immigrants currently live in the U.S., with roughly two-thirds of them employed. The Obama administration has made employers the focus of its efforts to curb illegal immigration.