Subscribe Click here to subscribe
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that, for the next 45 days, it will not sanction employers for hiring victims of Hurricane Katrina who, at this time, are unable to provide documentation as required by the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Form. Employers are responsible for completing and retaining I-9 Forms for individuals they hire. This form requires employers to verify employment eligibility and establish identity through original documents presented by the employee.
In a press release issued September 6, 2005, DHS noted that many individuals who are victims of Hurricane Katrina lack these documents as a result of being evacuated from their homes, loss or damage to personal items and records, and ongoing displacement in shelters and temporary housing. DHS also noted that as a result of the widespread damage and destruction to government facilities in the area affected by the hurricane, it can be expected that many victims will be unable to apply and receive new documents in the period of time required by the employment verification rules.
Accordingly, the Department will "refrain from initiating employer sanction enforcement actions for the next 45 days for civil violations, under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, with regard to individuals who are currently unable to provide identity and eligibility documents as a result of the hurricane." Employers will still need to complete the I-9 Form as much as possible but should note at this time that the documentation normally required is not available due to the events involving Hurricane Katrina. At the end of 45 days, DHS will review this policy and make further recommendations.
If you have any questions regarding this issue or employment-related immigration issues in general, please contact the Ford & Harrison attorney with whom you usually work or Joyce Fleming, (404) 888-3888.