Cloverhill was recently subjected to an “I-9 audit” which revealed widespread fraud in its hiring practices. “I-9” refers to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. It is required for essentially every employee hired in the U.S. and records the documentation presented to prove employment eligibility. Discrepancies in the paperwork allowed hundreds of illegals to be terminated:
Last summer, roughly 800 undocumented workers at Cloverhill Bakery in Chicago were let go after immigration agents discovered that many of them had used fake or stolen papers to secure their jobs.The result was catastrophic for Cloverhill, leading to “more than $19 million in losses in June and July, largely due to the shedding of hundreds of experienced workers.”
The temp agency that had hired the workers had been audited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In one fell swoop, Cloverhill—a large-scale bakery with nationwide distribution — lost more than one-third of its workforce.
ICE Pledges Immigration Crackdown On Businesses. Here's What It Looks Like, by Parija Kavilanz, CNN Money, January 15, 2018
But buried in Kavilanz’ CNN article: evidence that Cloverhill knew its business model relied upon hiring illegals. It used a company called Labor Network to hire workers for the production floor, while Cloverhill conducted background checks and used E-Verify for the employees it directly hires. Why?
Answer: there seems to have been a two-tiered employment process, with one for employees who were not likely to be illegal aliens and another for the large number of employees on the production floor. Essentially, this was a Brazil-like helot system. The drastic fall in profits following the audit suggests this was baked (so to speak) into the very business model. Some illegals had worked at the company for as long as 17 years. It’s similar to the business model used by Chipotle.
Indeed, other evidence from the article suggests Cloverhill was closely tied to these illegal workers. ICE began the audit in early 2015, sending the first letters that they were employing illegal aliens to the Labor Network in July 2015. Then Aryzta/Cloverhill, despite an alleged arm’s length relationship with the workers hired by Labor Network, Inc., started paying severance to the fired illegal aliens.
A few weeks later, [one undocumented worker, who requested his name be withheld] lost his job at the bakery. He was given severance of $1,800, according to the employee's wife who is also undocumented and requested not to be identified in the story. ([Aryzta spokeswoman] Stecko said Aryzta voluntarily funded a severance pool for the terminated workers.)Very nice—but it’s a crime to pay an illegal alien a wage, including any severance pay, a violation of Title 8 United States Code Section 1324a, Unlawful Employment of Aliens. The severance pay is also a violation of Title 8 USC 1324, Bringing In and Harboring Illegal Aliens.
Additionally, any payments or wages paid to an illegal alien after an employer has been notified about the status of the illegal alien and the alien has been unable to provide proof of employment eligibility are contraband as well, and subject to seizure by DHS.
Why didn’t James M. Gibbons, Chicago ICE Special Agent-in-Charge, have those payments seized? His office recently seized 60 tons of Chinese honey. (Right—it was pretending to be Vietnamese honey, to avoid sanctions.) Doesn’t Gibbons care about illegal payments to illegal aliens? (Give Gibbons a call—HSI Chicago office: (630) 574-4600).
James Gibbons, ICEDespite claims by Thomas Homan, Acting ICE Director, that the new worksite enforcement program would include arrests of illegal aliens, no arrests were made at Cloverhill. This is disturbingly similar to the Chipotle I-9 investigation, where illegal aliens employed by Chipotle were allowed to remain in the United States by the Obama Regime Administrative Amnesty.
As I warned, the component of ICE that is responsible for worksite enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), simply dislikes its primary duty.
The federal government has unfortunately made it harder for I-9 forms to be used to enforce immigration laws. The I-9 form is from one component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but used by another component of DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to enforce immigration laws. This separation of responsibilities is itself a serious impediment to the efficient collection of records. What’s worse, the forms are for some reason not stored completely electronically, which makes them far more difficult to search for law enforcement purposes.
Ultimately, the federal government’s lenience and incompetence has enabled companies like Cloverhill to create entire business models that rely upon illegality. If President Trump is serious about re-establishing the rule of law, I-9 forms should be stored electronically, audits and raids need to be regular occurrences, and companies need to be punished for breaking the law.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan has promised a crackdown on the employment of illegal aliens and to make arrests. If he’s telling the truth, it’s past time to get his troops in line with the new program.
The blogger Federale (Email him) is a 4th generation Californian and a veteran of federal law enforcement, including service in the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal law enforcement agencies.
Federale's opinions do not represent those of the Department of Homeland Security or the federal government, and are an exercise of rights protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.