This story is just too good to be true. Despite how you may feel about the giant fence being built on our border with Mexico, it is hard to not see the hypocrisy that bursts at the seams in this story.
Melvin Kay and Michael McLaughlin, two Golden State Fence Co. executives are facing the forfeiture of 4.7 million dollars and jailtime. Their crime was knowingly hiring illegal immigrants to build the barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. This story is a rarity because corporate executives usually get away with their illegal hiring practices while the only people that suffer consequences are those that are doing whatever they can to make a living in the U.S.
From the San Diego Union Tribune:
The admission by Riverside-based Golden State Fence Co. involves what a federal official said is the largest penalty brought against an employer in this type of criminal prosecution.
The case also is one of the few in which employers of illegal immigrants face prison, said Michael Unzueta, special agent in charge of the San Diego office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“This is the largest criminal forfeiture in a work site case that I’m aware of,” said Unzueta, who asked his staff to research similar cases.
“Nobody can put their finger on another case where a corporate officer actually did jail time,” he said.
Everyone is in shock that the people doing the hiring are finally paying the price for their actions. Well kudos to the ICE for prosecuting the real criminals in this one instance.
More from NPR:
After an immigration check in 1999 found undocumented workers on its payroll, Golden State promised to clean house. But when followup checks were made in 2004 and 2005, some of those same illegal workers were still on the job. In fact, U-S Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company’s 750 workers may have been in the country illegally.
Golden State Fence built millions of dollars’ worth of fencing around homes, offices, and military bases. Its president and one of its Southern California managers will pay fines totaling $300,000. The government is also recommending jail time for Melvin Kay and Michael McLaughlin, probably about six months
So it took seven years of raids for the Feds to get it that Golden State Fence Company didn’t feel like changing their practices. They kept promising to change their ways while lying through their teeth. Now, not only are the two execs looking at a huge loss of cash and a short six month stint in prison, but the manager will have to cough up $300K in fines.
If you clicked the link for Golden State Fence you see their nice looking website that shows little cute fences for homes in the Southern California region. They don’t announce it too loudly, but they also do the work for the U.S. Border Fence and military installations.
The Golden State website also posts this garbage on their website:
Golden State Fence Works to Ensure Legal Status of Employees
Maintaining a workforce that includes only citizens and legal residents of the United States is a challenge for all companies, especially those in the construction industry. Golden State Fence has taken a number of important steps to ensure that all its employees are legal residents. Since December 2005, Golden State Fence has voluntarily participated in the Basic Employment Verification Pilot program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Through this program, all of our new employees are screened by the government to help verify their legal immigration status. Participation in the Basic Pilot Program has enabled Golden State Fence to verify the status of all new employees, while deterring those with fraudulent documents from applying for work.
Golden State Fence has also implemented intensive training workshops for all employees involved in the hiring process. Regular internal I-9 audits are conducted by an outside firm, providing our hiring and administrative staff with the information they need to do the best possible job of maintaining compliance with immigration regulations.
The company has conducted extensive outreach to hire legally documented workers, including recruitment through the State Unemployment Office, through military veteran employment agencies, community colleges and adult education schools.
An established procedure for responding to annual Social Security “No-Match” letters will also help to ensure our ability to reconcile any apparent record discrepancies.
The company holds it contractors and subcontractors equally accountable for their hiring practices, in keeping with the same high standards as Golden State Fence.
Golden State Fence encourages other companies in the fencing business to also participate in these government programs as this creates a level playing field in the industry and is the best way to reassure our customers that we are providing dependable service with legally documented workers.
However in the interest of fairness, the company’s lawyer had this to say:
Golden State Fence’s attorney, Richard Hirsch, admits his client broke the law. But he says the case proves that construction companies need a guest-worker program.
From now on, if the government wants to try and deal with laborers coming from Latin America and elsewhere to work in this country they better start with the crooked employers like Golden State Fence Co.