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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

TARGET, WHOLE FOODS SUED FOR I-9 DOCUMENT ABUSE

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I advise companies every day on how to comply with IRCA, the 1986 immigration law that mandates using I-9s to verify employment authorization. Many employers are sloppy in their record keeping and don't pay enough attention to properly verifying identify and work authorization. So I'm often assisting companies in being more diligent about the process.



But there are other companies that go overboard and try to be too strict in complying with the rules. In their zealousness to weed out unauthorized immigrants, they end up asking for inappropriate documents or making other demands that cross the line in to discrimination. Two household retail giants in California are being sued for just that reason.



Download document_abuse_case_example.pdf



The two firms are accused of terminating two employees authorized to work. One is the beneficiary of the TPS program for people temporarily permitted to remain in the US and work legally when they happen to be here when a crisis develops in their home country (such as a war breaking out or a volcano erupting). The other is a US citizen who was improperly asked to provide documentation of her work status well after providing the necessary documentation when she completed an I-9 form at the time of her hire. Because she had sent her naturalization paperwork to the State Department in order to get a passport, she was unable to prove her citizenship and she was fired.



Obviously, these are just accusations and the companies may have a different version of the facts. But they do provide a lesson to employers that the I-9 process needs to be taken more seriously and good training is an absolute necessity to ensure that government enforcement actions are avoided and lawsuits are avoided.

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  1. sam's Avatar
    hi greg, sorry for posting this here didnt know where to send it. this is an article i just read. hopeing u might have suggestion on how to help these people

    Longtime US Residents Fight Deportation
    Saturday, November 17th, 2007 at 4:45am
    STATE COLLEGE, Pa.

    Immigrants Pedro and Salvacion Servano have been model U.S. residents since arriving from the Philippines in the 1980s. Pedro Servano, 54, is a prominent family doctor in an underserved area of central Pennsylvania. His 51-year-old wife runs a grocery store and bakery.

    But apparent misstatements they made about their marital status 17 years ago have come back to haunt them, and now they are facing possible deportation back to the Philippines.

    The couple have been told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office the day after Thanksgiving for the start of deportation proceedings, agency spokesman Michael Gilhooly said Friday.

    Their attorney, Gregg Cotler, is devising a flurry of last-ditch legal and political appeals to allow them to remain in Selinsgrove, about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

    "We love this country and this is our American dream to be here," Salvacion Servano said in a telephone interview. "We've been here for 25 years. This is our home."

    Their difficulties can be traced back to 1978 when, while both were single, their mothers applied for visas for them to come to the United States.

    The couple married in the Philippines in 1980, and two years later, Salvacion Servano's visa was granted and she left the country. Pedro Servano followed in 1984 after getting his visa, and the couple moved to Philadelphia.

    The Servanos applied for U.S. citizenship while living in San Diego in 1990, but an immigration official noticed during an interview that their visa application listed them as single. They were accused of lying and misrepresenting their marital status, and the deportation process began, Cotler said.

    "I guess it's an honest mistake," Salvacion Servano said. "It's not premeditated."

    The Servanos went about their lives as they filed appeals. They moved back to Philadelphia in 1992 before settling in Selinsgrove three years later. Pedro Servano works at Geisinger Medical Group in Selinsgrove, where he has about 2,000 patients.

    Two of their four children graduated from Temple University, while one is in high school and another is in middle school.

    Several years ago, the Servanos bought and renovated two properties in nearby Sunbury. Salvacion Servano recently opened a small grocery store there, selling Asian goods and baked items.

    "They had an error on their visas when they first came here," said Terry Specht, Sunbury's city clerk, who frequents the store. "It's ridiculous to think they would lie about that."

    But their appeals have been unsuccessful and appear to have run their course.

    The Servanos turned to Cotler after receiving notice earlier this month that they had to report to the immigration enforcement office.

    "It was a surprise to us," Pedro Servano said. "After that, it was as if a ton of bricks had fallen on our family."

    Gilhooly declined to discuss the specifics of the case, citing ICE policy.

    "They have had their due process through the U.S. immigration court system," he said. "They have exhausted their appeals."

    Cotler hopes otherwise. His legal team is considering emergency appeals in court and directly to the U.S. attorney general's office.

    The family has lobbied for help from politicians. Friends scheduled a prayer vigil in Sunbury for Saturday night.

    Letters of support to the government have poured in from local dignitaries, Servano's patients and even someone from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE.

    "I fervently believe in the ICE mission. However, the Servanos did not sneak into this country illegally, they have broken no laws, and they have not been a burden to the economy. They pose no threat," DHS counterterrorism operative Bill Schweigart wrote in a letter obtained by The Daily Item of Sunbury. "I cannot fathom how deporting the Servanos fulfills any portion of the ICE mission. In fact, I would argue the action runs counter to it."

    Cotler said the couple understands the government's position, but would simply like another chance to tell their story.

    "You would not find two nicer people, two more unassuming people," Specht said. "It's a shame that these two are caught up in all this."

  2. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Hi Sam - The situation is indeed unfortunate. There are occasional waivers available for visa fraud and I would hope the lawyers for the couple have explored that option. My guess is that there are important details the story is leaving out (including what happened in the deportation proceedings).
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