When Immigration Matters

McDonald's Franchisee Pays $400k for Hiring Undocumented Manager

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sat, Nov 03, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

WICHITA, KAN. – A local McDonald's Franchisee has agreed to plead guilty to an immigration charge after a federal investigation showed that the manager of one of its McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita was an undocumented worker, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced on October 31, 2012.

McCalla Corporation, a McDonald’s franchisee with offices at 9342 E. Central in Wichita, was charged today with one felony count of knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document offered as proof that an employee was eligible to work. As part of the plea agreement, the corporation has agreed to pay a $300,000 fine, and an additional $100,000 forfeiture judgment.

The case is the second time in two months that a Kansas company has been charged with knowingly employing undocumented workers. In the other case, the owners of two hotels in Overland Park, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., were charged with knowingly hiring undocumented workers for housekeeping jobs.

I-9, USCIS“Employment is the primary driving force behind illegal immigration,” Grissom said. “I’m calling on all Kansas employers to strengthen their hiring practices and to help us safeguard this nation by hiring and maintaining a lawful workforce.”

Employers that try to cut costs and gain an economic advantage over competitors by means of unlawful hiring practices are causing problems in Kansas and across the nation, Grissom said.

“Businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers are putting us all at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “They are creating a marketplace for unauthorized workers who may resort to presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits and even stealing the identities of legal U.S. workers.”

According to an agent’s affidavit filed in federal court, the investigation began in February 2011 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security received information that McCalla Corporation employed undocumented workers. McCalla Corporation owns McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita at 1630 S. Hillside, 11989 E. Kellogg, 501 E. Pawnee, 1219 S. Rock Road, 2418 S. Seneca and 1645 S. Webb Road.

In its agreement to plead guilty, McCalla Corporation admitted that in March 2011 the company’s director of operations became aware that one of its store managers was using a Social Security number not assigned to her. He told the McDonald’s store manager she needed to provide him new documents to confirm her eligibility to work.

Two days later, the store manager presented a resident alien identification card. The director of operations knew the new card was not genuine. He knew that it takes weeks, not just two days, for a foreign national to obtain a resident alien card. Nevertheless, he updated the store manager’s paperwork and McCalla Corporation took no further action concerning her employment. The store manager continued working as a store manager from May 2009 to September 2012.

Grissom said he expects McCalla Corporation to enter the guilty plea within the next three weeks, as the court’s schedule permits.
“ICE is committed to holding businesses accountable when they knowingly hire or retain illegal workers,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago. “Employers who willfully violate our nation’s hiring laws gain an unfair economic advantage over law abiding competitors. Our goal is to protect job opportunities for the nation’s legal workers and level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules.”

For more information about how employers can help with immigration enforcement, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site at www.uscis.gov and click on E-verify.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated with the assistance of the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

DHS Indicts Hotel Owners for Hiring Undocumented Workers

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 @ 10:25 AM
ICE, I-9, USCISThe owners of an Overland Park, Kan., hotel have been indicted on charges of knowingly hiring undocumented aliens who were paid less than other employees, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Munir Ahmad Chaudary, 51, and his wife, Rhonda R. Bridge, 40, both of Overland Park, are charged with the following crimes:

– One count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain.
– Five counts of harboring undocumented aliens for personal gain.
– Four counts of wire fraud.

The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes including two hotels the couple owns: The Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St. in Overland Park, and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo.

“The grand jury’s indictment alleges these defendants knew they were hiring undocumented workers,” Grissom said. “They paid the undocumented workers less and they paid them in cash. Their economic motive was to cut their costs and to get an advantage on other hotels that abided by the law.”

In addition to the charges against the owners, one of the employees is being charged. Syed Naqvy, 34, Overland Park, Kan., a desk clerk, is charged with one count of making a false statement to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and one count of failing to depart from the United States as ordered.

None of the other undocumented workers is being arrested, Grissom said. They have been interviewed by immigration officials, who will decide what to do about their immigration status after the case has been concluded, Grissom said.

“This prosecution is aimed at unscrupulous employers who are a driving force behind illegal immigration,” Grissom said.

The indictment alleges that in December 2011 investigators from DHS Homeland Security Investigations and the Kansas Department of Revenue received information that the two Clarion hotels were employing undocumented aliens. Investigators interviewed hotel employees and learned that most of them were unlawfully in the United States.

In June 2012, an undercover agent took a job as a housekeeper at the Clarion hotel in Overland Park. The agent made it clear to Chaudary and Bridge when he was hired that he was unlawfully in the United States and had no documents allowing him to be employed, according to the indictment.

The agent learned that Chaudary and Bridge, through their business holdings including Rhonda & Son’s Inc., and Mac & Sons LLC, paid employees who they believed were illegally in the United States a lower hourly rate than other employees. When the undercover agent asked Chaudary why he was paid less, Chaudary told him it was because nothing was being withheld from wages to employees who were illegal.

The indictment alleges Chaudary, Bridge and their business holdings lowered their operating costs because:
– Illegal workers were paid less than other workers.
– The defendants did not pay the employer’s share of Social Security payments.
– The defendants did not pay workers compensation, unemployment insurance or other benefits.

Upon conviction, the alleged crimes carry the following penalties:

Conspiracy to harbor aliens: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Harboring illegal aliens for financial gain: A maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Wire fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Making a false statement to the government: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Failing to depart the United States as ordered: A maximum penalty of four years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.

The government is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the crimes including two hotels the couple owns: The Clarion Hotel at 7000 W. 108th St. in Overland Park, and the Clarion Hotel at 11828 NW Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo." - DOJ, Sept. 11, 2012.

"We want to send a very clear message. ... We are going to enforce immigration laws, and we are going to enforce them equally," Grissom said in a news conference in Kansas City, Kan.  "We're not going to enforce them merely on the backs of (undocumented workers). We are going to go after the people hiring them."  That symbolizes a switch from years past when employees often were the target.  The indictment marks the government's first attempt to seize a hotel in Kansas in a case involving undocumented workers."

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

 

Department of Justice Sues Vegas Casino for I-9 Problems

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sat, Jun 02, 2012 @ 10:30 AM

I-9, USCIS, ICEThe Justice Department announced today that it filed a lawsuit against Tuscany Hotel and Casino LLC in Las Vegas, alleging that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in the employment eligibility verification and re-verification process. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires employers to treat all authorized workers equally during the hiring, firing and employment eligibility verification process, regardless of their national origin or citizenship status.

The complaint alleges that Tuscany treated non-citizens differently from U.S. citizens during the employment eligibility verification and reverification process by requesting non-citizen employees to provide more or different documents or information than required during the initial employment eligibility verification process, and demanded specific documents during the reverification process. The complaint further alleges that Tuscany subjected lawful permanent residents to unnecessary reverification based on their citizenship status after requesting and entering into the payroll system the expiration date of their Permanent Resident Cards (green cards) for purposes of reverification." - DOJ, May 31, 2012.

Immigration Attorney Karen-Lee Pollak Talks I-9 in Texas Lawyer

Posted by Michael Pollak on Fri, Feb 03, 2012 @ 11:58 AM

Karen-Lee PollakImmigration Attorney Karen-Lee Pollak provides nine tips to pass the I-9 ICE test in this week's issue of Texas Lawyer. 

Under President Barack Obama's administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shifted its enforcement focus away from the worker and toward the employer. This has increased worksite investigations and the levy of substantial fines, penalties and criminal charges. If that weren't enough for the legal department to worry about, shareholders may bring director-and-officer civil suits connected with the company's hiring of undocumented workers or alleging inadequate due diligence of an acquired or merged company's immigration procedures.

Federal law requires employers to verify all new employees' employment eligibility within three business days of hire by completing and retaining Form I-9. Employees must complete the form within 24 hours of hire. While on its face the form appears quite simple, it can be confusing and difficult to complete. Given that, what lessons can in-house counsel learn to help their companies avoid punitive fines for faulty recordkeeping?

Read the rest of the article...

Immigration | ICE I-9 Rule Allows Electronic Signatures & Storage

Posted by Michael Pollak on Thu, Aug 05, 2010 @ 9:00 AM

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued a final rule, effective August 23, 2010, providing that employers and recruiters or referrers for a fee who are required to complete and retain the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) may sign the form electronically and retain it in an electronic format. The final rule makes minor changes to an interim final rule promulgated in 2006.

DHSThe final rule's supplementary information notes that the completed I-9 form is not filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but is retained by the employer, who must make it available for inspection upon a request by ICE investigators or other authorized federal officials. Employers must keep the I-9 in their own files for three years after the date of hire of the employee or one year after the date that employment is terminated, whichever is later. Recruiters or referrers for a fee must keep each I-9 for three years after the date of hire. Failure to properly complete and retain each I-9 may subject the employer or recruiter or referrer for a fee to civil money penalties.

Among other things, the final rule clarifies that:

  • Employers must complete the I-9 within three business (not calendar) days;
  • Employers may use paper, electronic systems, or a combination of paper and electronic systems;
  • Employers may change electronic storage systems as long as the systems meet the performance requirements of the regulations;
  • Employers need not retain audit trails recording each time an I-9 is electronically viewed, but only when the I-9 is created, completed, updated, modified, altered, or corrected; and
  •  Employers may provide or transmit a confirmation of an I-9 transaction, but are not required to do so unless the employee requests a copy.

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USCIS Update for Documentation Employers & Temporary Protected Status Beneficiaries

Posted by Michael Pollak on Mon, May 17, 2010 @ 10:03 AM

USCISTemporary Protected Status (TPS) is an immigration benefit granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to eligible individuals in the United States who are nationals of a country (or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in such country) that has been designated for TPS.  A country may be designated for TPS on the basis of on-going armed conflict, environmental disaster or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent such nationals from safely returning to their homelands.  TPS is granted to eligible individuals from the designated countries for time-limited periods, depending on the length of the country designation or an extension of that designation.

Individuals who have been granted TPS may work in the United States and may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An EAD is a plastic, credit card-sized document that shows proof of the individual's authorization to work in the United States and contains a photograph of the individual. 

When securing employment in the United States, TPS beneficiaries, like any other individual whom an employer hires, will be requested by their employers to attest to their authorization to work in the United States using the USCIS form, Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9.  To complete the Form I-9 process, they also must present to their employers a document or combination of documents of the employees' choosing evidencing their identity and employment authorization from the list of acceptable documents. 

The EAD issued to TPS beneficiaries by USCIS is one of the documents listed as acceptable for the Form I-9.  This document establishes both identity and employment authorization under "List A" of the Form I-9.  The expiration date on the card is usually the end of the TPS period for which the bearer last registered.  When DHS extends a specific TPS country designation, it sometimes issues a Federal Register notice containing a temporary blanket automatic extension of expiring EADs for TPS beneficiaries from that country to allow time for USCIS to issue new EADs with updated validity dates. The USCIS Web site and the Federal Register notice will describe this EAD auto-extension and will note the date when the auto-extension ends.  The auto-extension is typically for 6 months, but the time period can vary. 

This Fact Sheet provides guidance to employees and employers on the treatment of auto-extended EADs issued to TPS beneficiaries when completing the Form I-9 process.

Employers

If presented for completion of Form I-9 by your employee, you must accept a TPS-related EAD that is expired on its face if it nevertheless remains unexpired based on an auto-extension of the EAD by DHS as announced in a notice published in the Federal Register. Also, the card must reasonably appear on its face to be genuine and to relate to the employee presenting it to be acceptable.  The following information will appear on the card:

scan of an employment id card showing 2 characteristics employers should look for

  1. The notation "A-12" or "C-19" appears on the face of the EAD under "Category."
  2. The expiration date of the most recent TPS extension period on the face of the card. This date will appear in the Federal Register notice announcing the auto-extension of EADs and may also be found at www.uscis.gov/tps.

Employers should enter the document name, number, and expiration date in Section 2 under List A, noting the end of the auto-extension period. You may not request that an employee provide proof that he or she is a national of a country that has been designated for TPS. 

When the automatic extension of the EAD expires, you must reverify the employee's employment authorization. The employee may choose to present an unexpired EAD with an updated expiration date, or any other document from List A or C of Form I-9 evidencing that he or she continues to be authorized to work in the United States. You should enter the document name, number and expiration date in Section 3 of the Form I-9.

In addition to completing the Form I-9 process described above, employers that participate in E-Verify may also confirm the employment authorization of the TPS beneficiary by submitting the required data from the Form I-9 to E-Verify.  However, the employer may only check the employment authorization of new hires through E-Verify.  If the TPS beneficiary is a current employee, the employer may not use E-Verify to confirm employment authorization and should complete only the reverification required in Section 3 of the Form I-9.

Employees

If you are a TPS beneficiary and have been issued a TPS-based EAD, your EAD will contain the notation "A-12" or "C-19" under "Category" and an expiration date for the last TPS designation or extension of TPS for your country.  When completing the Form I-9 for your employer, you may choose to present this EAD as evidence of both your identity and employment authorization under List A of the form if the card is unexpired.  Once the expiration date on the face of your card is reached, your EAD is no longer acceptable for the Form I-9, unless DHS has automatically extended the expiration date of your card in a notice published in the Federal Register.  Your card will remain valid through the auto-extension period stated in the Federal Register notice and must be accepted by your employer for completion of the Form I-9.  You may want to provide your employer with a copy of the Federal Register notice stating the automatic extension of your EAD, in case your employer is not aware that he or she may accept your EAD. 

If you choose to present your auto-extended, TPS-based EAD to your employer, your employer will be required to reverify your employment authorization on Section 3 of Form I-9 at the end of the automatic EAD extension period.  At that time, you must present your employer with either your new TPS-related EAD containing an updated, valid expiration date, or any other acceptable document from List A or C evidencing that you continue to be authorized for employment in the United States. 

Contact Information

For additional information about TPS, please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5273 or visit the USCIS Web site at www.uscis.gov/tps to find:

  • General TPS information;
  • A list of countries currently designated for TPS;
  • Links to Federal Register notices for TPS designated countries; and
  • Each designated country's:
    • Most recent designation date;
    • Current expiration date;
    • Current registration period; and
    • Duration of the country's automatic extension of EADs.

Employers seeking information about accepting documents from TPS beneficiaries may contact the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) Employer Hotline at 1-800-255-8155 or visit the DOJ Web site at www.justice.gov/crt/osc.

Employees should contact the Office of Special Council Employee Hotline at 1-800-255-7688 or visit the Web site at www.justice.gov/crt/osc if:

  • You believe your employer is treating you in a discriminatory manner based on your immigration or TPS status, or based on your national origin; or
  • Your employer will not allow you to work despite having presented your employer with your valid, auto-extended TPS EAD, or your presentation of other documents acceptable for the Form I-9.

ICE to Audit I-9 Employment Verification Forms For 1000 Employers

Posted by Michael Pollak on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 @ 7:19 AM

Today, the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") announced that it would begin delivering I-9 audit notices immediately to approximately 1,000 employers across the country associated with critical infrastructure. It seems that the notices will primarily consist of subpoenas for I-9 employee verification forms and supporting documents.  Employers that receive audit notices should make sure that they are aware of the deadline to submit responses to ICE

Employers should contact their immigration counsel as soon as possible to review the subpoena and coordinate their responses.  Employers should also avoid any detailed conversation with ICE representatives concerning their workplace processes and/or I-9 verification procedures.  

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