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Houston Companies Pay the Price for Illegal Employees

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When US immigration officials audited Advanced Containment Systems Inc, last year, it discovered that 44% of the company’s workforce comprised of illegal immigrants. They found ID cards supposedly issued by the “Texas Department of Safety”, which had misspelled words like “identification” and “department”. One even said “novelty item” on the back. The illegal employees had been paid about $2 million during a 2005-2009 period. To avoid criminal prosecution, US immigration officials recently reached a $2 million settlement with ACSI.

A similar incident recently occurred with another Houston company, Champion Window. They also agreed to pay $2 million to the government when an audit revealed that about 60% of their workforce was illegal.

The settlements are a new strategy for the government. When President Obama took office, the administration decided to target employers who knowingly hire illegals, rather than to stage high-profile raids against companies. According to Homeland Security agent Robert Rutt, “Each company is forfeiting a substantial amount of money… it sends a message that these actions- while not criminally prosecuted- still have consequences.”

In the 2010 fiscal year, US immigration officials’ worksite audits resulted in a record-breaking $36.6 million in judicial fines. According to local immigration attorney Grdon Quan, the government’s actions has companies taking a harder look at their employees. “There is a lot of concern out there,” he says. “I think for a long time, people thought it was no big deal, the government wasn’t checking these things. Now I see more and more personnel people taking this very seriously.”



Source: The Houston Chronicle, //

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