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Businesses Busted for Illegal Workers

Formerly called the U.S. Border Patrol, today's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has been stepping up operations targeting undocumented workers and the businesses that deliberately hire them.

Raids by the federal government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department are continuing to target undocumented immigrants--and companies that knowingly hire them.

Business owners who check worker documents but mistakenly hire illegal workers are generally not prosecuted.

The raids started in April, when agents arrested more than 1,000 workers and supervisors at IFCO Systems, a wood shipping-pallet manufacturing business located in 26 states. The crackdown was prompted by the nation's ongoing immigration debate and President Bush's vow to get tough on illegal immigration. Bush, however, continues to push for an expanded guest-worker program that would let foreigners work here on a temporary basis.

Another big sweep targeted Kentucky-based homebuilder Fischer Homes. On May 12, agents descended on several of the company's construction sites, arresting more than 80 undocumented workers. The raid was not widely reported, however.

By June, several subcontracting business owners for homebuilder Fischer had been indicted and charged with harboring illegal immigrants.

Using a slightly different approach, a sting operation took place in May at a DuPont Co. chemical plant in Memphis, Tenn. Officials of the chemical giant cooperated with ICE authorities to catch 25 illegal workers applying for jobs.

In the Fischer Homes case, two of the arrested men said they had been in the country less than two weeks. Most said they earned about $10 per hour, or $1,200 to $1,300 per month.

Four of the arrested were supervisors with Fischer Homes, which said it was the most active homebuilder in the Ohio-Kentucky-area last year with 1,150 closings and revenues in excess of $244 million.

Other spring raids have taken place elsewhere across the country.

On May 30, ICE agents arrested five Mexican workers – some of them longtime employees – at the Cessna Aircraft Co. plant in Wichita, Kansas.

Cessna spokesperson Robert Stangarone said the company had received an anonymous tip that those five workers had used false documents to get their jobs. After an internal review of the employment records of those employees, Cessna notified immigration authorities, Stangarone said.

“Cessna’s cooperation in this matter is a model for all employers,” said US Attorney Eric Melgren.

Federal prosecution of business owners and supervisors has concentrated on those who deliberately hired undocumented workers.

Yet another ICE raid took place on June 1, when agents raided Texas French Bread, a restaurant and bakery in Austin, Texas. Five kitchen workers were arrested on immigration charges.

Sources: Cincinnati Post, Kentucky Post,, Associated Press,

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May 19, 2019, 8:18 am PDT

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