Lessons Learned While Negotiating a Settlement of ICE Fines

Having the unfortunate experience of negotiating settlements of fines imposed by ICE following an inspection, Ive experienced a few things, some of which are similar to others experiences (as I have read) and some perhaps not, which I share below:

  • Following an inspection but prior to the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF), consider reaching out to your local ICE attorney and determine if negotiations may occur pre-NIF.  My most recent negotiation involved a pre-NIF negotiation.  What I was told is that the ICE attorney had more flexibility to negotiate prior to the issuance of the NIF.  It seems logical, and based on my experience, I believe it to be true.  I would negotiate pre-NIF again given the opportunity.
  • Of course the fines may be reduced and the reduction does not have to make sense.  While it may be helpful to find arguments to support the reduction (such as errors in the NIF), ICEs settlement number does not have to correlate in terms of the math and the schedule of fines.  In other words, I have found the process to be similar to negotiating a settlement of a lawsuit the numbers can be a little arbitrary, as long as there is a dispute going on.
  • ICE may be willing to stretch out payments as long as 72 months, and based on the very low applicable interest rate, thats a deal!
  • Dont agree that the settlement will bind all related entities or a particular individual such as the owner.  It should only bind the employer that was the subject of the inspection.
  • ICE can agree to not issue a press release, although it cant agree not to respond to inquiries or requests about the settlement.  Avoiding a press release may be of value to you.

Its not a pleasant process, but with some help, you can make the best of the negotiation and get the best deal you can.