Employers who violate federal immigration laws will be facing steeper civil fines under new rules announced today by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Civil fines will increase by as much as $5,000, under the rule, which will take effect March 27.

The announcement also included discussion of new border security reforms.

"Despite Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we have done a lot to help secure our borders over the last few years," Mukasey said. "But there is still a lot to be done ... Addressing the many problems associated with the border is among my highest priorities."

The new rules is the first adjustment for inflation of civil penalties for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act since 1999.

The average adjustment is about 25 percent. For example, the minimum penalty for knowingly employing an undocumented immigrant increases from $275 to $375 and the maximum penalty for a first violation will rise from $2,200 to $3,200, according to a Justice Department press release.

The biggest increase will be in the civil multiple violations, which will rise from $11,000 to $16,000. These fines are based on the number of aliens employed, so five unauthorized aliens could result in five fines.

The Southwest Border Enforcement Initiative includes a $100 million request in new Justice Department funding for fiscal year 2009.