Penalties for hiring illegal immigrants basically consist of fines unless the employer also violates regional laws that prohibit concealing, harboring, or transporting illegal aliens. In those cases, substantial fines and imprisonment are possible, along with seizure of property or vehicles used to commit the crime. Fines in the United States increased slightly in 2008 for businesses and individuals who knowingly employ illegal immigrants. Hiring illegal immigrants is a misdemeanor.
Employers are usually responsible to check any documents the employee presents to show he or she can legally work. Failure to fill out proper forms showing the employee’s identity has been confirmed may also be a misdemeanor with fines attached to violations. Stiffer penalties are possible if a pattern emerges showing the employer is consistently hiring illegal immigrants.
Under the harboring law, if someone hires multiple illegal immigrants within a one-year period, it becomes a felony offense that carries a potential prison term and fine. If the person smuggled or assisted in smuggling aliens into the country to find work, the penalties increase. Providing false documents to help someone work illegally, or changing records to protect the immigrant, also fall under the law.
Immigration laws may apply to any person hired to perform work for pay, except for an infrequent housekeeper. Day laborers who work for cash for various employers also fall under the law, and the person who is knowingly hiring illegal immigrants can be fined. U.S. law allows local and state law enforcement officers to arrest people who are illegally in the country.
Citizens in the U.S. can file lawsuits against companies or individuals for immigration violations under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law. The civil suits must show that two or more immigration crimes were committed. These suits can request triple the amount of damages alleged.
In the United Kingdom (UK), fines can be imposed for each instance of hiring illegal immigrants. The law is designed to keep unskilled workers from flooding the country, and to attract workers with needed abilities. Authorities in the UK conduct workplace inspections and deport illegal immigrants who are not permitted to work in the country.