ICE raids an employer, IFCO, for hiring illegal workers

ICE woke itself up from its indifference and made a aggressively publicized enforcement raid on an employer, pursuant of IRCA, Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Washington Post reported that ‘Federal agents on Wednesday arrested seven current and former managers of IFCO Systems, a manufacturer of crates and pallets, on criminal charges, and more than 1,100 people were arrested on administrative immigration charges at more than 40 IFCO sites in the U.S.” This is more of a publicity stunt, because ICE likely has no real resources to make many raids, but the raid might well work to temper the enthusiasm of many employers for hiring undocumented workers and to drive many employers more underground. According to the Post, ICE has only 325 agents to cover the entire country. I expect that raids of this size — in many company sites, apparently — will be rare.
The last enforcement action of this magnitude may have been the Tyson case, which I have written about here. That ended in no convictions of the company, but only of fall guys.


IRCA prohibits the employment of illegal aliens and imposes criminal and civil penalties (fines between $250 and $10,000, and six months imprisonment) against persons who knowingly hire unauthorized aliens.
According to a federal government website, “all U.S. employers are responsible for completion and retention of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and non-citizens. On the form, the employer must verify the employment eligibility and identity documents presented by the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9.” You can find here a copy of the form.
The Post went on:

“We are going to move beyond the current level of activity to a higher level in each month and year to come,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. He pledged to “come down as hard as possible” on violators.

Chertoff has said this before, regarding the Tyson case, and then as Assistant Attorney General.

Authorities raided offices and plants of IFCO Systems in Arizona and at lease seven other states in the culmination of a yearlong criminal investigation, law enforcement officials said. IFCO systems, shown Thursday, April 20, 2006, in Phoenix, was one of several sites where Immigration agents arrested seven executives and hundreds of employees Wednesday as part of a crackdown on employers of illegal workers. Authorities raided offices and plants of IFCO Systems in Arizona and at lease seven other states in the culmination of a yearlong criminal investigation, law enforcement officials said. Federal agents on Wednesday arrested seven current and former managers of IFCO Systems, a manufacturer of crates and pallets, on criminal charges, and more than 1,100 people were arrested on administrative immigration charges at more than 40 IFCO sites in the U.S. Chertoff denied the timing of the stepped up enforcement had anything to do with recent immigration demonstrations, saying the investigations began more than a year ago. The Netherlands-based company describes itself as the leading pallet services company in America. More than half of the company’s roughly 5,800 employees during 2005 had invalid or mismatched Social Security numbers, the government alleges. The case began after officials got a tip that IFCO workers in Guilderland, N.Y. were seen ripping up their W-2 forms because they did not intend to file tax returns, Chertoff said.

Six of seven current and former IFCO managers charged with felony conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens were released on bond and are to appear May 4 in Albany, N.Y., where the criminal complaint was filed and the investigation began at a suburban IFCO facility. The managers could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each alien involved, as well as forfeitures. Most of the 1,187 illegal immigrants arrested are being processed for deportation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Sciocchetti in Albany. “They were getting cheated on their overtime,” she said. “There were 10 to 20 people living in a house sleeping on air mattresses. They weren’t the greatest employment conditions.” If Congress provides the money, officials said they plan to add about 200 more agents by the end of next year as they go after companies that violate immigration laws. There are now about 325 agents. Federal officials also are asking Congress for greater access to workers’ Social Security data to help uncover illegal aliens who use bogus identification data.

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