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Latino Daily News

Friday June 17, 2011

“Silent Raids” Continue as Government Continues Search for Illegal Labor

“Silent Raids” Continue as Government Continues Search for Illegal Labor

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The federal government continued its crackdown on businesses and employers who hire undocumented immigrants, and Wednesday issued another 1,000 warning to companies across the country saying that inspections of their hiring records should be expected.

Those that hire undocumented workers to keep labor costs down are now hoping they can keep Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials from fining or possibly filing criminal charges against them for “knowingly hiring illegal workers, evading taxes and engaging in identity theft,” wrote The Wall Street Journal.

The 1000 employers were ordered to hand over their I-9 forms, which determine a person’s employment eligibility. The forms contain Social Security numbers, dates or birth, and employees’ statements of citizenship.

Gillian Christensen, spokeswoman for ICE said the businesses under scrutiny in these so-called “silent raids” have not been named due to “the ongoing, law-enforcement-sensitive nature of the inspectors.”

Immigrant advocates, even other government agencies have expressed concern over of the “silent raids” and say that evidence should be found that something is not right.

Randy Johnson, a senior vice president for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said, “We are concerned the audits are being based more on a fishing expedition than firm facts.” Adding, “Because these audits can cost millions of dollars in lost productivity and attorneys’ fees, the government should move carefully and only when based on solid foundation that there is in fact illegal behavior.”

Last year, Chipotle Mexican Grill was audited, and since the inquiry began, hundreds of workers have been let go from the restaurant’s more than 1,000 locations. It is believed Chipotle fired them as a means to avoid punishment from ICE.

A number of former employees have since filed lawsuits after they allegedly did not receive wages they were owed.