How Many Employers Have Been Prosecuted for Employing Illegals?

While more than 112,000 people were prosecuted for illegal entry or re-entry into the U.S. over the past year, just 11 employers faced criminal charges for hiring undocumented workers, according to an analysis of government data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

“The latest available data show that during the last 12 months (April 2018 to March 2019) only 11 individuals (and no companies) were prosecuted in just seven cases,” TRAC said in a statement releasing the findings. “Not only are few employers prosecuted, fewer who are convicted receive sentences that amount to more than token punishment.”

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Additionally, of the 11 people convicted during the 12-month period, only three served prison time despite, as the New York Times reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s stated mission: “ICE’s worksite-enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.”

Given the millions of undocumented immigrants now working in this country, the TRAC statement continues, the odds of being criminally prosecuted for employing undocumented workers appears to be “exceedingly” remote.

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The Times piece also notes that federal prosecutors are hard-pressed when it comes to filing charges against employers, quoting Tom Roach, an immigration lawyer in Pasco, Wash., whose clients include farmers who grow apples and other crops in the agriculture-rich area.

“It’s very hard for the government to prove what an employer knows in his head about his workers,” he said. “It’s a steep hill to climb.”

Michael J. O'Brien
Michael J. O’Brien is former web editor with Human Resource Executive®.

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