Government Looks for Companies Hiring Illegal Workers

Jun 16, 2011

The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency sent notices to 1,000 companies yesterday informing them of plans to inspect I-9 forms filled out by new employees along with other documents to determine if the businesses were employing illegal immigrants. The companies being audited, both large and small, were determined based on tips the government received that illegals were working on the job.

The Obama administration, according to an Associated Press report, has sought to find employers of illegal immigrants through audits rather than "high-profile workplace raids" favored by the ICE under George Bush.

Food manufacturing, restaurants, retail and related industries have been the subject of illegal immigrant searches in the past, although it appears as though most of the companies notified of the impending audit do not fit the description this go-around.

"ICE’s worksite enforcement strategy focuses on employers, penalizing those who knowingly violate the law and deterring others from breaking the law," Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for the ICE, told the AP. "ICE may arrest workers we encounter, but arresting workers in and of itself is not a strategy or the goal of the program."

Companies found to have hired illegals are subject to civil and criminal penalties. According to The Wall Street Journal, "The possibilities range from fines and being barred from competing for government contracts to criminal charges of knowingly employing illegal workers, evading taxes and engaging in identity theft."

Peter Schey, an attorney for American Apparel, told the Journal that auditing I-9s is "a senseless policy in the name of making a down payment on comprehensive immigration policy."

Discussion Question: Do you agree with the government policy of cracking down on companies that hire illegal immigrants? What will stricter enforcement mean to retail businesses, suppliers and growers?

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4 Comments on "Government Looks for Companies Hiring Illegal Workers"

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Ryan Mathews
10 years 11 months ago

The law is the law and needs to be either enforced or amended into a statute that can be enforced.

As to what stricter enforcement will mean to the food industry, it will create labor shortages, raise labor rates, and significantly raise legal budgets.

The great lie is that this industry wants to see immigration laws enforced. Look past the rhetoric and the subtle winks and you’ll find a food distribution system that has profited on the back of undocumented workers for years.

Warren Thayer
10 years 11 months ago

Ryan said it all. Enforce the law, or get rid of it. I recall breaking Robinson-Patman daily when I worked on the manufacturer side, 25 years ago, because that’s what the entire industry did. It really ate at me. I brought it up to a federal official once, and he just said (unforgettably, to me at least), “No, don’t worry about it. It’s not a priority for us right now.”

Mark Burr
10 years 11 months ago
“Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for the ICE, told the AP. ‘ICE may arrest workers we encounter, but arresting workers in and of itself is not a strategy or the goal of the program.'” So just what is the strategy of the program? Is it a shakedown? Or is it enforcement? The ‘illegal’ part has two parties does it not? Does it not involve both the worker and the hiring company? The strategy sounds like a cycle to me rather than a solution. Without a solution, there will be a cycle. But then again, in the anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-growth environment currently present, maybe it’s just part of an overall shakedown? Based on tips? Really? Call me cynical, but one can only guess where the tips may have come from. Could the tips be from the same list of companies that are not eligible to do work or receive contracts from the government because they gave contributions to one party over another? Certainly it won’t be companies that have received waivers from the government from the health… Read more »
Richard Cooper
Richard Cooper
10 years 11 months ago
The lowest possible cost of domestic production and distribution consistent with the requirements mandated by Federal, State or local governments is, or should be, the goal of any business. When those costs escalate, the end result is either manifested in higher wholesale and retail prices or diminished profits or a blend of both “negatives.” At worst, it results in a further erosion of jobs as American manufacturers/processors seek lower cost imports. As a number of Southern States have discovered — particularly Georgia — the newly imposed crack-down on undocumented workers (illegal aliens), primarily from Mexico, has seriously disrupted harvesting, sorting and packing. LET’S GET REAL! The State of Georgia (and other States facing similar predicaments) can simply introduce temporary worker permits which can have variable time limits while obligating the employer to provide such workers with conditions that are in full compliance with applicable labor and safety laws — where on-site housing accommodation is provided that too will need to be both habitable with adequate sanitation. The hotel sector, particularly those hotels located in resort… Read more »

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