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California Employers: Stuck Between Federal and State Form I-9 Laws. What is California’s AB 450?

I-9 form

With growing federal employment immigration enforcement, California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law AB-450, the California Immigration Worksite Enforcement Act.  AB-450 imposes requirements on all California employers when complying with federal immigration laws related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

AB-450 prohibits employers from voluntarily permitting federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents to search nonpublic areas of a worksite or accessing or reviewing any employee personnel records absent a judicial warrant, subpoena, or court order.

Further, when DHS agents arrive at an employer’s door demanding entry to conduct a “random” worksite Form I-9 audit, employers are prohibited from complying, absent a Notice of Inspection, and must invoke the federal “72-Hour Notice of Inspection Rule,” which allows employers to elect a 3-day adjournment of the DHS Form I-9 inspection or audit.  During the next 72 hours, the employer must: (1) provide all current employees with notification of the DHS Form I-9 audit by posting notices throughout the workplace in each language an employer uses to communicate with an employee; (2) notify any authorized employee representatives, including labor unions; and (3) provide a copy of the DHS Notice of Inspection to any requesting employee.

Critics of AB-450 argue that the law will lead to conflicts with federal laws and regulations, and will only confuse employers.  Proponents note that AB-450 will only ensure that the rights of employers and employees are protected when ICE comes knocking at HR’s California door.

If you have questions about this post or other immigration-related topics, please email me at rglahoud@nmmlaw.com.