The Government can file enforcement actions for hiring unauthorized employees in either criminal or civil proceedings. Criminal proceedings may result in either fines or prison sentences while civil proceedings result in administrative fines. Attorney General Mukasey announced on Friday, February 22, 2008, that the administrative fines would increase effective March 29, 2008 to adjust for inflation. The minimum fine for the first offense of the knowing hire of an unauthorized individual will increase by $100 to $375. The maximum civil penalty for the first violation increases to $3,200. For multiple offenses, the maximum penalty increases from $11,000 to $16,000.
The Attorney General announced these increases as routine adjustments for inflation, but noted that the increases were also part of the initiative announced last August as part of enhanced effort to improve interior and worksite enforcement. Current efforts, however, remain focused on the criminal prosecution of employers for the hiring of unauthorized immigrants. In one recent press release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement noted that 57 undocumented workers were arrested in Utah, and many of the workers as well as the employer would be indicted for various criminal charges. The press release also noted that the Department of Labor participated in the investigation and processing of the arrested workers to be sure the proper wages had been paid for work before the arrest. The workers were then processed for criminal charges and deportation.