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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.

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

Park Pentagram: Devil or Decoration?

An artist's rendering shows the entrance to the playground area at Springfield, Ill.'s Washington Park.

The playground at Springfield, Ill.'s Washington Park was altered several weeks ago because of complaints that a five-pointed star etched in concrete could be interpreted as a symbol of the occult. The pentagram is on the circular stage of a small amphitheater at the rear of the playground. The design was intended to be a spoked wheel, but landscape architect Kent Massie said a mistake made when the concrete was poured late last summer rendered that design impossible. It was decided to go with the star.

It was an innocent mistake, Massie said, and the star was not intended to signify anything.

To correct the problem, new lines and colors were added to give the circular area more of a pinwheel appearance.

The $400,000 playground was a project of the Springfield Parks Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports the park district. It includes attractions such as a climbing wall, a water play area and new landscaping. The amphitheater area is intended for small groups of schoolchildren and others.

Foundation president Cathy Schwartz said that when she first saw the star design, she thought nothing of it. On at least one occasion, candles were found at the site of the star, she added. "At that point, we decided we couldn't leave it the way it is," Schwartz said.

The changes to the design were done free of charge.

Source: Illinois State Journal Register

PLANET and ANLA Merge? Forgetaboutit

Remember all that talk last summer about the possible merger between the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) and the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA)?

The reasoning behind the decision, according to the joint release from PLANET and ANLA, is the "memberships of the two associations are largely based in different sectors of the green industry," although one assumes both groups knew that going into merger mode. ANLA and PLANET say they represent more than 6,000 green industry business professionals. Indeed, a merger would have brought together agricultural nursery production, wholesale distribution, retail garden centers, landscape design/build/installation, lawn care, landscape management, and interior plantscaping services.

Labor Facts

53: The percentage of Americans who believe illegal immigrants should be required to go home, compared with 40 percent who feel they should be granted some kind of legal status allowing them to stay in this country.

49: The percentage of Americans who favor increasing penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

33: The percentage of Americans who want to see border enforcement stepped up by increasing the number of border patrol agents.

9: The percentage of Americans who believe more fences should be constructed along the border to control illegal immigration. Source: The Pew Research Center

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May 26, 2019, 3:17 pm PDT

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