Four businesses in Imperial County were fined more than $61,000 in fiscal 2012 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for employment-related violations.
The announcement came Tuesday as ICE announced that 10 businesses between San Diego and Imperial County violated various federal employment laws pertaining to immigration during the past fiscal year.
El Sol Meat Market in Calexico was fined $24,050, Mexicali Chicken and Salad in El Centro was fined $21,500, Rocha Trucking & Parking Inc. in Calexico was fined $8,000, and International Consolidated Cargo in Calexico was fined $7,480.
Collectively, between San Diego and Imperial County, the fines totaled more than $173,800, with the largest fine, $50,000, being lodged against a San Diego-area medical transportation service, Balboa Ambulance Inc.
The fines were imposed after ICE Homeland Security Investigations found the businesses had failed to comply with laws prohibiting the hiring of unauthorized workers.
One of the ways HSI identifies potential hiring violations is by auditing employers’ Form I-9s, the document businesses use to verify an employee’s eligibility to work. Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire. In fiscal 2012, HSI conducted 151 worksite audits in San Diego and Imperial counties, compared to 86 audits the previous year and 63 audits in fiscal 2010.
“Employers who build their business model upon an illegal workforce will be held accountable,” said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. “We encourage employers to take the employee verification process seriously. Employers must understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files or banking records.”
The remainder of the 10 businesses fined were: Aquarius Yacht Services, $13,744 fine; Harmony Egg Ranch, $9,000 fine; Old Town Buffet, $15,000 fine; Stanford Sign and Awning Inc., $9,600 fine; and TDG Aerospace, $15,427.50 fine.
The $173,800 in civil fines represents an 18 percent increase over fiscal 2011, when HSI imposed $146,577 in civil fines locally against 11 employers.
Nationwide, HSI conducted more than 3,000 worksite audits in fiscal 2012 as compared to 2,496 the previous year.
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