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Buffalo Restaurant Owner Charged With Harboring Unauthorized Workers

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

The owner of four restaurants in Buffalo was recently audited by ICE and charged by the Department of Justice. It’s alleged that the owner, Sergio Mucino, employed a total of 38 workers, 25 of whom were allegedly unauthorized. ICE charged Mucino, along with several other men, in “harboring” unauthorized workers. The owner now faces the possibility of a 10 year jail sentence and up to $250,000 in fines.

What does “harboring” mean, according to ICE?

The term “harboring” is mu

ch broader than most think. It can be any conduct that helps an unauthorized worker to remain in the U.S. Under Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), employers can be found to be harboring by simply employing an unauthorized worker.

What can happen to you if your company isn’t in compliance?

Obviously, noncompliance means IRCA violations, possible fines, and up to five years in jail. However, employers being charged with RICO violations are exposed to steeper penalties, including higher jail time and fines, such as in this case where the employers are facing up to 10 years of jail time and a $250,000 fine. Moreover, ICE noted in the April 2009 Memo that they are prioritizing the criminal prosecution of employers, rather than chasing employees, in order to deter noncompliance and the employment of unauthorized workers.

What does this mean for employers?

All companies must comply with immigration regulations (IRCA and RICO) and are subject to government investigations and audits. ICE, however, targets specific industries such as restaurants, hotels, and construction companies in their investigations, since historically these industries have had more unauthorized labor.

In order to avoid potentially massive fines and jail time, employers must be proactive in complying with ICE Best Practices. Full compliance goes far beyond merely filling out the Form I-9 and should include comprehensive corporate immigration compliance plans, policies, and procedures.

For training on everything from how to establish compliance plans, policies, and procedures to simply correctly completing the Form I-9, please check out the wide variety of in-person seminars and live webinars available at Meghan Sholy | Law Clerk CORPORATE IMMIGRATION COMPLIANCE INSTITUTE 7007 College Blvd., # 460, Overland Park, KS 66211 USA Phone :: 913.317.6200 Email ::

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