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Fusion Centers?

Published by on February 15, 2011

My interest was piqued when I saw a report in the February 2011 issue of HR Magazine that “fusion centers have been established to facilitate cooperation among [government] agencies. . . .  Wage and hour investigators, ICE auditors and tax auditors are now all in one place to share resources, leverage information and pursue top-to-bottom […]

My interest was piqued when I saw a report in the February 2011 issue of HR Magazine that “fusion centers have been established to facilitate cooperation among [government] agencies. . . .  Wage and hour investigators, ICE auditors and tax auditors are now all in one place to share resources, leverage information and pursue top-to-bottom audits.”  Having never heard of a “fusion center,” I turned to Google for the answer.  More after the break.

A google search revealed that a “fusion center” is a terrorism prevention and response center operated by the Department of Homeland Security.  There appear to be no official reports of a labor-related “fusion center” having been opened.  The source of this information was apparently a release by a law firm in November 2010.  That report says that

Homeland Security Creates I-9 Audit Fusion Center

Soon, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will announce the creation of an I-9 Audit Fusion Center. This center will be staffed by approximately 20 forensic auditors who will assist local DHS offices executing I-9 audits for large employers. With the creation of this new center, employers can expect DHS to ramp up enforcement and conduct I-9 audits of larger employers. It is more important than ever for employers to ensure their I-9s are in good order, provide I-9 training for employees handling I-9 completion and compliance, and, for those larger employers, to ensure that there is a consistent company-wide policy in place for the treatment of I-9s and the increased possibility of an I-9 audit.

There is no source cited for this story, and the DHS website has no information to confirm this.  If DHS is, in fact, creating a fusion center to facilitate cooperation among the DOL Wage and Hour and the IRS, for example, this synergy would be very troubling news for employers.  The Obama Administration has dramatically increased the number of I-9 audits while decreasing the number of immigration raids.  Routine I-9 audits would have the potential to turn into a major inquisition by the federal government.  In addition, the privacy implications for employees would be extremely significant.  If DHS intends to open such a “fusion center,” one would hope that it would be announced publicly so that the merits of such an operation could be debated.

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