Failure to comply with Immigration and Nationality Act rules regarding unauthorized workers has resulted in a guilty plea to a federal criminal charge for Philadelphia-area company, Asplundh Tree Experts, Co., and monetary penalties totaling $95 million. The penalty levied against Asplundh, one of the largest privately-held companies in the United States, includes an $80 million criminal forfeiture money judgment as well as a $15 million civil payment, and represents the largest payment ever executed in an immigration case.
The criminal charge came as a result of a lengthy investigation which determined that management at Asplundh exercised willful blindness to the practice of unlawfully employing aliens, specifically turning a blind eye to lower-level managers hiring and rehiring employees they knew to be ineligible to work in the United States. These practices were in direct violation of 8 U.S. Code § 1324a, which makes unlawful the employment of unauthorized aliens in the United States.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director, Thomas Homan, the criminal charge and penalty are intended to send a powerful message to employers that intend to circumnavigate the existing regulations on employment of ineligible workers.
“Today’s judgment sends a strong, clear message to employers who scheme to hire and retain a workforce of illegal immigrants: we will find you and hold you accountable,” said Homan. “Violators who manipulate hiring laws are a pull factor for illegal immigration, and we will continue to take action to remove this magnet.”
The criminal charge and significant penalty levied against Asplundh highlights the importance of proper Form I-9 verification and reverification procedures, and exemplifies how the employment of unauthorized workers can result not only in significant monetary penalties, but also in federal criminal charges. For more information regarding Form I-9, and the employment verification process, or to develop comprehensive immigration-related hiring processes for your organization, contact Green and Spiegel today.