Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Worksite Enforcement Investigations focus on those employers involved in criminal activity or worker exploitation. This type of employer violation frequently involves document fraud, human rights abuses, alien smuggling and/or harboring illegal aliens and has a direct link to the employment of unauthorized workers. In recent years, ICE has stepped up its Worksite Enforcement Investigations against unscrupulous employers who have habitually engaged in this pattern of criminal behavior leading to many arrests, convictions and deportation of undocumented workers.
In February, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at a Los Angeles-area computer cartridge manufacturing plant, arresting current and former company workers on criminal charges and another 100 employees on immigrations violations. In Springfield, Ill., the former owner of a local restaurant was sentenced in January to 18 months in a federal prison for harboring illegal aliens at his buffet restaurant. The sentence resulted from a criminal worksite enforcement investigation conducted by ICE. Xian Xi Ye, 41, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 18 months in prison for harboring illegal aliens and was also ordered to pay a $2,500 fine within one year. Xian, an illegal alien from China, will be turned over to the ICE and subjected to deportation proceedings upon completion of his prison term. Xian pleaded guilty in September 2007 to providing housing, employment and transportation to the illegal aliens who worked at this restaurant.
Also in January, a federal jury in Springfield, Miss., convicted a former George’s Processing Inc. employee of harboring an illegal alien and inducing an illegal alien to enter or reside in the United States. Dora Ruiz, 33, of Monett, Miss., was found guilty of two counts contained in an Oct. 16, 2007, federal indictment. Ruiz was found guilty of aiding and abetting others to harbor an illegal alien at George’s Processing and of aiding and abetting others to induce an illegal alien to enter or reside in the U.S. between December 2005 and May 2007. This verdict marks the first trial conviction in an active investigation arising from the ICE worksite enforcement operation concluded at George’s Processing in May 2007.
Yet another example of a successful ICE Worksite Enforcement initiative was the arrest in January of this year of Ji Quan Yang, 40, of Bardstown, Ky. Yang is the president of Asian Garden Inc., According to the ICE affidavit, ICE agents observed young Hispanic and Asian workers being transported from a duplex in Bardstown to the China Star Buffet and Grill where they were employed. He owned automobiles at the duplex. Investigation revealed that many workers were illegal aliens who were brought to Kentucky by Yang himself. Many of these individuals worked upwards of 80 hours per week for cash derived from dividing tips. The trial is scheduled for later this year.
There are many more ongoing ICE worksite enforcement investigations at this time which target those employers who knowingly harbor illegal aliens. Unlike in years past where such activity was not aggressively targeted by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, ICE is committed to punishing those unscrupulous employers who deliberate refuse to comply with our nation’s strict immigration laws by hiring and harboring illegal aliens for their own monetary gain.
Rob C. Tonogbanua, Esq.
Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, P.C.