|(30 May 2019)
Criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers has been relatively rare. The latest available data show that during the last twelve months (April 2018 - March 2019) only 11 individuals (and no companies) were prosecuted in just 7 cases.
During the same period, these 11 prosecutions compare with 85,727 individuals prosecuted for illegal entry, 34,617 prosecuted for illegal re-entry, and 4,733 prosecuted for illegally bringing in or harboring immigrants. Given the millions of undocumented immigrants now working in this country, the odds of being criminally prosecuted for employing undocumented workers appears to be exceedingly remote.
Indeed, since criminal penalties for employers were first enacted by Congress in 1986, few employers have ever been prosecuted under these provisions (8 USC 1324a). Prosecutions have rarely climbed above 15 annually, and have never exceeded 20 individuals a year except during 2005 under President Bush and when they reached 25 in the first year of the Obama Administration.
Not only are few employers prosecuted, fewer who are convicted receive sentences that amount to more than token punishment. Prison sentences are rare. For example, of the 11 individuals the Justice Department reported as convicted during the most recent 12-month period, only 3 were sentenced to serve prison time.
These results are based upon case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. These data were obtained from the Justice Department as a result of litigation brought by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act.
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