California Company Pleads Guilty to Employing Undocumented Immigrants
A California-based printer supply manufacturer, Wazana Brothers International (also known as Micro Solutions Enterprises), has pled guilty to employing approximately 55 undocumented immigrants. As part of the agreement, the company will pay $267,000 in fines, submit to a three-year probationary period, and implement a compliance program in connection with its violation of federal immigration laws.
The charges, which also include aiding and abetting the false representation of a Social Security number by an undocumented employee, come four years after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided the company’s worksite and arrested approximately 130 employees on suspicion of being illegal aliens. Although eight employees were criminally charged with providing fraudulent information at the time, charges against the company and its president were not filed until August 2012.
According to court documents, upon receiving notice of a forthcoming Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) audit in 2007, the company’s owner arranged for the relocation of 80 employees - over 50 of whom did not have valid employment authorization documents - to a different manufacturing facility. The plea agreement also describes meetings during which the owner instructed undocumented assembly line workers to obtain valid work authorization documents and suggested that he did not care if these documents actually belonged to the employees who presented them. In addition, the company repeatedly failed to comply with the government’s request for hiring records related to suspected undocumented employees.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the company pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of continuing to employ unauthorized aliens and admitted that it knew or deliberately avoided knowing that certain of its employees were not authorized to work in the U.S.
In additional to monetary penalties, the company’s three-year probationary period includes retaining an independent compliance monitor to oversee hiring records and training employees to ensure full compliance with federal immigration laws.