Unauthorized Employment in the United States: Issues and Options [Updated April 20, 2007] [open pdf - 120KB]
From the Summary: "As Congress considers immigration reform and ways to address the unauthorized alien population, the issue of unauthorized employment is the focus of much discussion. The unauthorized alien working population, like the unauthorized alien population generally, has been growing steadily. There were an estimated 7.2 million unauthorized workers in the U.S. civilian labor force in March 2005. It is widely accepted that most unauthorized aliens enter and remain in the United States in order to work. Thus, eliminating employment opportunities for these aliens has been seen as an approach to curtailing unauthorized immigration. Provisions enacted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, which are sometimes referred to as employer sanctions, made it unlawful for an employer to knowingly hire, recruit or refer for a fee, or continue to employ an alien who is not authorized to work. It also established a paper-based employment eligibility verification system, known as the I-9 system, which requires that employers examine documents presented by new hires to verify identity and work eligibility, and complete and retain I-9 verification forms. There is general agreement that the I-9 process has been undermined by fraud. Employers violating prohibitions on unauthorized employment in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) may be subject to civil or criminal penalties. The Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) is responsible for enforcing the INA prohibitions on unauthorized employment."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33973