Hiring Illegal Immigrants a Common Practice

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Kansas City, MOMany workers who are legally hired by companies are becoming frustrated by employers who insist on hiring illegal immigrants, even though the practice is punishable by jail time.

Unfortunately, the number of illegal immigrants hired to work in the United States is growing, which is having a negative effect on people's wages. Some authorities are responding to the practice by passing legislation against companies with illegal employees, but workers themselves are now taking action by filing lawsuits against their employers.

illegal immigrantsIn a commentary on the hiring of illegal immigrants, Claire McCaskill, a U.S. Senator from Missouri, noted that in 1986 there were three million illegal immigrants. "Now," she writes in the Kansas City Star, "we have 12 million because there was no enforcement of the law toward employers who are exploiting illegal immigrants for cheap labor."

Some local and regional governments are responding to the problem of hiring illegal immigrants by creating legislation of their own. Green Bay, Wisconsin, has proposed a rule to deny city licenses to business that either employ or are run by illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, a proposed Tennessee bill would revoke the license of any business found to have "knowingly" hired illegal immigrants. For a first offence the company would lose its license until the company can show it no longer has any illegal immigrants as employees. Any further offences that occur within three years would result in a suspended license for a year.

Federal authorities are also cracking down on the hiring of illegal immigrants. On June 12 federal agents raided offices at the Fresh Del Monte Produce plant in Portland. Over 165 workers were detained for possible deportation and only 48 of almost 600 workers at the plant had valid Social Security numbers. Additionally, three managers from American Staffing Resources, which provides workers for the produce plant, were arrested and charged with knowingly hiring illegal workers.

However, it is not just the government taking action against employers for hiring illegal immigrants. Employees at companies who hire illegal immigrants are filing lawsuits, claiming their employers' actions are lowering wages. In one such lawsuit, current and former workers at Mohawk Industries, a flooring company, filed a lawsuit against their employer. The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, alleges that the company recruited, hired, and harbored illegal immigrants.

What is interesting about the Mohawk lawsuit is that it has been filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law. Under RICO, the penalty is three times the amount of the damages. Other lawsuits have also been filed under RICO alleging companies hired illegal immigrants. One such lawsuit was filed against Swift & Co., a Colorado meat processor, alleging the company was involved in transporting, smuggling, and harboring illegal immigrants. The suit was filed by eighteen former Swift employees.

If you work for an employer who hires illegal immigrants you may be eligible to join a lawsuit. Contact a lawyer to discuss your options. Check back with us for updates on the above-mentioned lawsuits, and more...

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