USCIS Uses Undocumented Employees as Informants in an I-9 Enforcement Action
Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 17, 2011 – An Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation has resulted in a five count indictment of current and former managers of a Houston restaurant chain. Begun as an audit of Houston's Mambo Seafood restaurants' I-9 Employment Eligibility documentation, the ICE investigation lead to the detention of 33 undocumented workers and the seizure of numerous corporate documents in 2009.
The indictments handed down in June 2011 allege a conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to reside illegally in the U.S. and to harbor aliens. To bolster its investigation, ICE obtained the cooperation of a few of Mambo's undocumented workers. These workers wore recording devices, and advised Mambo managers that they were undocumented and sought the company's assistance in obtaining some of type of fraudulent documentation to enable them to continue working for the Company. The hidden electronic devices recorded management's responses after being told by the workers that they were unauthorized. The indictments charge that the Mambo managers knowingly employed persons with no status, knowingly accepted fraudulent documents, and permitted certain workers to use multiple identities and SSNs, all criminal violations.
Federal law requires all employers to obtain a statement of work authorized status and to check the identity and work authorization of new hires, and punishes employers who fail to comply with these requirements with fines, and in egregious cases such as this one, with criminal indictments.
“The first step for any employer who is concerned about its workforce compliance practices is to conduct an external, independent audit to identify weaknesses in its compliance program, and then develop a plan to remedy the program’s deficiencies,” said Dallas immigration attorney Stewart Rabinowitz, of the law firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C.
The Company stated that it is cooperating with ICE.
“ICE’s message to employers is clear – take workforce compliance obligations seriously,” said Rabinowitz. “This case underscores that ICE’s usual practice of auditing first and then taking enforcement action does not always apply when there are flagrant violations of law. Needless to say, an employer’s agent should never assist a worker to remain on the payroll when that worker has disclosed to the employer that he or she was unauthorized to work.”
Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Dallas-based Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To learn more, contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney at Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C., call 1.972.233.6200 or visit http://www.rabinowitzrabinowitz.com.
Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C.
14901 Quorum Drive, Suite 580
Dallas, Texas 75254
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