An owner of two restaurants was audited in August by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and pleaded guilty to harboring unauthorized immigrant workers. The owner of Ruen Tong Thai Cuisine and Walter Café admitted that she knowingly hired several Thai nationals who were not legally present in the U.S.
According to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), it is illegal to employ an immigrant without work authorization. Those who violate this law face fines of up to $16,000 per worker and potential jail time.
Under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), when a person knowingly harbors an unauthorized immigrant, they can receive up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Additionally, under RICO the government can force a violator to forfeit any ownership interest in the company and profits made while operating illegally. Harboring is any conduct that tends to help an unauthorized immigrant worker to remain in the U.S. This includes hiring a worker without proper compliance with ICE Best Practices.
So, any time an employer hires a worker without making an adequate effort to comply with immigration laws, the employer is exposing themselves to potentially massive fines, forfeiture and even jail time. This is exactly what looms over this restaurant owner pending sentencing.
ALL employers are subject to ICE investigations, but ICE but pays special attention to target industries, like: restaurants, construction, food processing, and hospitality services. In order to avoid fines and imprisonment, employers must complete an I-9 for each employee, and should also establish corporate immigration plans, policies, and procedures in accordance with ICE Best Practices. Proactive Training and regular compliance Audits are not only a critical part of ICE Best Practices, but are also the BEST way to protect you and your business. Meghan Sholy | Training Specialist CORPORATE IMMIGRATION COMPLIANCE INSTITUTE 7007 College Blvd., # 460, Overland Park, KS 66211 USA Phone :: 913.317.6200 Email ::Training@i-9seminars.com