The owners of two Clarion Hotels in the Kansas City area have been in indicted for conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants, five counts of harboring undocumented immigrants, and four counts of wire fraud. If convicted, they face five to 20 years for each conviction, fines of up to $250,000 per count and seizure of their two hotels.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) began their
investigation based on a tip that the hotels were employing undocumented workers. It is unknown who provided the tip but two possibilities are a former employer or a competitor hotel. Thereafter, ICE-HSI in interviewed a number of employees and determined approximately 50% of the employees were undocumented.


In the course of the investigation, ICE-HSI sent an undercover agent, who sought work while conceding he did not have "any papers." He was offered employment at less than minimum wage. When he inquired why, he was told because there would be no withholdings from his wages. Thus, the government alleges "the economic motive was to cut costs and to get an advantage on other hotels that abided by the law."


By seeking the seizure of the hotels, the U.S. government is upping up the penalties for immigration fraud. This is just one more reason why employers should treat immigration compliance with the utmost seriousness.