Em­ploy­ers of il­le­gal aliens warned they face $10,000 in fed­eral fines

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

Em­ploy­ers na­tion­wide are be­ing warned that those who fail to fire il­le­gal aliens who use phony doc­u­ments to get hired face stiff sanc­tions, in­clud­ing fines of up to $10,000.

The De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity ini­tia­tive was first pro- posed last year but was de­layed pend­ing de­bate in Congress over a com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form bill. That ef­fort, en­dorsed by Pres­i­dent Bush, died in the Se­nate in June.

New rules con­cern­ing the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of doc­u­ments by em­ploy­ers will be re­in­forced by in­creased raids on work­places na­tion­wide, which em­ploy an es­ti­mated 6 mil- lion il­le­gal work­ers.

“We are tough, and we are go­ing to be even tougher,” Home­land Se­cu­rity spokesman Russ Knocke said. “There are not go­ing to be any more ex­cuses for em­ploy­ers, and there will be se­ri­ous con­se­quences for those that choose to bla­tantly dis­re­gard the law.”

Rep. Brian P. Bil­bray, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and chair­man of the Con­gres­sional Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form Cau­cus, has long said that en­forc­ing ex­ist­ing im­mi­gra­tion laws was a “nec­es­sary first step” in con­trol­ling the prob­lem of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Mr. Bil­bray’s spokesman, Kurt Bardella, de­scribed the pro­posed en­force­ment ef­fort as “long over­due,” but said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment “needs to give em­ploy­ers the tools to en­force the law and dif­fer­en­ti­ate who is here il­le­gally and who is not.”

“That’s why we need a tam­per­re­sis­tant So­cial Se­cu­rity card so that em­ploy­ers have a tam­per-re­sis­tant and work­ing em­ployer ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem to use so that they can com­ply with the law,” he said.

Em­ploy­ers are re­quired to ver­ify that their work­ers are in the coun­try legally by col­lect­ing their So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers and im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ments. Those num­bers are checked against U.S. gov­ern­ment data­bases, and em­ploy­ers are no­ti­fied of those that fail to match.

Nearly 10 per­cent of the 250 mil­lion wage re­ports sent to the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion each year do not match, ac­cord­ing to Home­land Se­cu­rity, al­though many of those mis­matches are caused by record-keep­ing er­rors.

For decades, em­ploy­ers have paid lit­tle at­ten­tion to th­ese fed­eral re­quire­ments.

But U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment (ICE), the in­ves­tiga­tive arm of Home­land Se­cu­rity re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion laws, is ac­tively pur­su­ing em­ploy­ers who hire il­le­gals. The agency re­cently tar­geted:

The pres­i­dent and two man­agers of a Mas­sachusetts man­u­fac­turer awarded $230 mil­lion in con­tracts in the past five years. They were in­dicted last week on charges of con­spir­ing to har­bor and hire il­le­gal aliens to fill the com­pany’s work force.

The owner of a steel com­pany in Mis­sis­sippi who was ar­raigned this month in fed­eral court in an in­dict­ment charg­ing he hired il­le­gal aliens from Hon­duras, Gu­atemala and Mex­ico to work at crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion sites through­out the Gulf Coast re­gion.

The owner of an Ohio busi­ness sen­tenced last month in fed­eral court to six months in prison, re­quired to for­feit his $770,000 home and com­plete 100 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice for hir­ing il­le­gals and fraud­u­lently us­ing gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments.

ICE also made 1,297 ad­min­is­tra­tive ar­rests of il­le­gal aliens for im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions dur­ing raids in De­cem­ber at Swift & Co. fa­cil­i­ties in six states — 274 of whom were crim­i­nally charged for iden­tity theft or use of fraud­u­lent doc­u­ments.

The num­ber of ICE ar­rests for crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions in work site raids has risen sharply since fis­cal 2002 — up from 25 to 613 in fis­cal 2007. There was also an in­crease in ad­min­is­tra­tive ar­rests, up from 485 in fis­cal 2002 to 3,226 in fis­cal 2007. Ad­min­is­tra­tive im­mi­gra­tion ar­rests re­fer to il­le­gal alien work­ers who are in the United States un­law­fully, but have com­mit­ted no other crime.

Un­der the pro­posed rule, em­ploy­ers would have to re­spond promptly when no­ti­fied of a mis­match — ei­ther by clear­ing up a cler­i­cal er­ror or fir­ing those found to be in the coun­try il­le­gally. An es­ti­mated 12 mil­lion to 20 mil­lion il­le­gal aliens are liv­ing in the United States.

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