Owners of Businesses that Hire Illegal Immigrants Arrested

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Bangor, MEBusinesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants are increasingly finding themselves as defendants in lawsuits. In addition to suits filed by the government, these companies are now facing claims from employees, alleging the businesses drive down wages by hiring illegal immigrants, and from competitors, who claim the practices violate unfair-competition laws. At the same time, owners and managers are being arrested for hiring undocumented workers.

illegal immigrant employers arrestedA businesswoman in Bangor was arrested and accused of helping businesses hire illegal immigrants on June 28. The woman, who owns The Mexican Store, was under investigation for helping illegal immigrants find work and living accommodations in the area. The woman's husband is also under investigation, although he has not yet been charged. Court documents describe the couple as "labor contractors," according to the Bangor Daily News. Officials claim the two helped illegal immigrants find work with local businesses including ISF Trading, Inc., a sea cucumber processing plant.

Meanwhile, the owners of roofing companies in two states were charged with hiring illegal aliens and arranging for deported workers to be smuggled back into the United States. The men were arrested and faced 15-count indictments. According to a U.S. attorney, one of the business owners paid to have his deported workers smuggled back to the U.S. right away so the workers could go back to work. The men allegedly laundered over $6 million in payments to illegal immigrants.

In Albany, the sentencing for six managers at a plant involved in an illegal immigration raid has been postponed. Authorities said the practice at IFCO Systems North America was a scheme that used illegal workers to gain a competitive advantage. In April 2006, raids at IFCO sites resulted in over 1,100 illegal immigrants being taken into custody.

Competitors of companies that hire illegal immigrants have started filing lawsuits alleging that companies that hire illegal workers break unfair-competition laws. One such lawsuit was filed by a temporary employment agency that supplies farm workers. The agency claimed that a grower had a contract with the temp agency but broke the agreement so it could hire illegal immigrants. The suit also named two competing companies that supplied the illegal workers. The lawsuit, which is backed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute, seeks $1.7 million in damages.

As more businesses learn that their competitors are hiring illegal immigrants, more lawsuits will likely be filed. Employers can face civil penalties if they are found to have knowingly hired illegal immigrants.

Employees at businesses that hire illegal immigrants have also filed lawsuits, claiming the practice drives down wages and deprives legal workers of jobs. Check back here to read about some of these employee-driven lawsuits.

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