Immigration Authorities Target Illegal Hiring

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ATLANTA (AP) -- Records show that federal immigration authorities based in Atlanta audited 105 businesses for illegal hiring practices during the last fiscal year.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's analysis of records associated with the audits also shows that authorities arrested several workers and issued nearly $900,000 in fines to employers -- the third-highest total in the nation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say dozens more such audits are under way in Georgia.

The newspaper reports that the enforcement is happening amid a sharp increase nationwide in such audits, fines and arrests of managers stemming from employers hiring illegal immigrants.

At the same time, records show the government has been arresting fewer lower-level workers during work-site investigations. Critics say that practice allows illegal immigrants to freely move on to other jobs nationwide.