In early April, as we reported here, agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided a facility of the CVE Technology Group, a technology repair company, in Allen, Texas. About 280 employees, judged to be illegal aliens, were taken into custody, most of whom have since been released and await adjudication at some future date.
ICE has not commented on whether the management of CVE will be held accountable for the crime of employing undocumented aliens, but there is a good chance it will not.
Why? The answer lies, as is typical, in the convoluted ways in which our laws are written. Federal laws require that to be prosecuted employers must knowingly have employed the undocumented. That word “knowingly” opens a convenient loophole in the law. If an employer, such as CVE, uses a staffing company to hire and manage its employees, it is the staffing company’s responsibility to know employees’ status, not the real employer.
Shifting the blame to their staffing agencies is precisely the defense CVE is offering. A few days after the raid, the company posted on its website a notice that read, in part:
[T]he nature of our third party contract workforce is important to understand. We work with multiple temporary and staffing agencies, all of whom are independently-owned and -operated, and each of whom contractually accepts full responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable law, including the country’s immigration laws…. [W]e strongly dispute the portrayal of CVE as a culpable party in connection with the raid and the detentions of the hundreds of detained individuals – the vast majority of whom were employed by unrelated third parties, not CVE.
Those staffing agencies contacted have not commented on the case. However, four whistleblower employees for one of the agencies are bringing the case to court. An attorney for the four contends that CVE management colluded with the agency in knowingly hiring illegals and hopes to hold both the agency and CVE responsible.
Regardless of whether CVE is ultimately prosecuted in this case, the raid in April netted the largest number of arrests of any such raid in the past decade, and it may signal a renewed interest in holding employers accountable. Following the raid, ICE officials declined to comment on specifics, but Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger said, generally, “These companies need to go about it properly. They need to be using a legal workforce. It’s required by law.”
For more, see the Dallas News.