It began simply. The laundry washer breaks down and a repair company is called to fix it.
At an April 20 press conference, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled details of a comprehensive immigration enforcement strategy that expands “efforts to target employers of illegal aliens and immigration violators inside this country, as well as the many criminal networks that support these activities.”
In what may have dire implications for any U.S.-based firm that use illegal immigrants as a labor source, including home builders, Homeland Security officials outlined a three-pronged program designed to achieve their goals:
“With the interior enforcement strategy of the Secure Border Initiative, we will aggressively target the growing support systems that make it easier for aliens to enter the country and find work outside of the law,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Pallet Company Becomes First Target
Also during the April 20 press conference, officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York announced the results of a nationwide worksite enforcement operation that targeted Houston-based IFCO Systems North America (“IFCO”), the largest pallet services company in the U.S.
Seven current and former managers were arrested and charged with conspiring to transport, harbor, encourage and induce illegal aliens to reside in the U.S. for commercial advantage and private financial gain in violation of Title 8, USC Section 1324 (a). The conspiracy charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each alien with respect to whom the violation takes place.
In addition to the arrests, ICE agents conducted searches at 40 IFCO plants and related locations in 26 states that resulted in the apprehension of over 1,100 illegal aliens employed by IFCO.
Government officials indicated that the arrests and search warrants were part of an ongoing criminal investigation of IFCO’s Pallet Management Services division that was set in motion more than a year ago.
“Employers and workers alike should be on notice that the status quo has changed,” said Chertoff. “We intend to find employers who knowingly or recklessly hire unauthorized workers and we will use every authority within our power to shut down businesses that exploit an illegal workforce to turn a profit.”
See also Department of Homeland Security press releases: