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  1. Restaurant Owner Faces Jail Time for Undocumented Workers

    By Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

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    On October 20, 2014, the owner of two Chinese restaurants in Kansas and Missouri pleaded guilty to conspiring to employ and harbor undocumented workers. At sentencing, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. As part of a plea agreement, he admitted to employing at least 12 undocumented workers, paying them in cash and providing them housing.

    The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and resulted in the arrest of more than a dozen suspects including operators, managers, and employees connected with Wei’s Super Buffet in Olathe, KS and Wei’s Super Buffet No. 2 in Kansas City, MO.

    ICE found six undocumented immigrants at an apartment leased by one of the restaurant owner’s family members. Five other defendants were found guilty at trial of harboring undocumented workers, and participating in a wider conspiracy to obtain motor vehicle registrations, license plates, and titles for undocumented immigrants.

    Hiring of unauthorized workers is a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA § 274A), which involves the failure of an employer to verify the employment eligibility of any person hired after November 6, 1986, by using the Form I-9.

    A copy of the press release from ICE can be found here.
    United States v. Wei Liu, et al., No. 13-20114-KHV (D. Kan.)
  2. Owners of Temp Agencies Arrested for Immigration Conspiracy; by Bruce Buchanan

    On January 30, 2014, federal agents arrested the owners of two employment agencies in Houston and charged them with recruiting and placing undocumented immigrants at restaurant jobs around the country, among other federal crimes. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years just on the immigration conspiracy charge.

    The raids on Hong Li Job Agency and the Tai Shan Employment Agency were part of a wider undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that led to the arrest of 30 other suspects including operators and managers connected with Chinese restaurants in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Maine, Texas and elsewhere who are believed to have knowingly employed and exploited undocumented workers.

    Hiring of unauthorized workers is a violation of section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which involves the failure of an employer to verify the employment eligibility of any person hired after November 6, 1986, by using the Form I-9.

    The workers, primarily from Mexico and Central America, were allegedly charged a fee of $300 to $480 for job placement which was deducted from their first month's pay. Once hired, they would work 12-hour shifts and 6 days per week at the restaurants, but were not paid overtime or allowed to keep their tips or gratuities. Workers were paid a set amount of $1,000 to $2,000 a month for putting in 72-hours of work per week. The restaurant operators paid less than the minimum wage, paid in cash to avoid employment taxes, and did not provide the workers with health insurance, vacation or sick time, ICE officials said.

    Copies of both indictments are available here and here .

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ID:	706 Restaurants specifically identified in the indictments are:

    China Cafe - Brownwood, TX;
    Asian City - Nacogdoches, TX;
    China Star - Bastrop, LA;
    Super Taste China Buffet - Port Allen, LA;
    New China Buffet and Grill - Abbeville, LA;
    Grand Buffet - Nederland, TX;
    King Buffet - Port Arthur, TX;
    Asian Garden - San Marcos, TX;
    Buffet City Asian Cuisine - Rockwall, TX;
    Weng's Buffet City Asian Cuisine - Rockwall, TX;
    Dragon Buffet and Sushi - Sanger, TX

    Updated 02-04-2014 at 05:38 PM by BBuchanan

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