By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) struck again in late August 2018 when it raided Load Trail LLC in Sumner, Texas. During this raid, HSI arrested about 160 employees on federal immigration violations - unlawfully working in the United States as undocumented status.

The investigation began when HSI received information that the company may have knowingly hired undocumented workers, and that many of the workers employed at Load Trail were using fraudulent identification documents.

Load Trail manufactures recreational and work trailers. It employs approximately 700 employees. Load Trail was founded by Mexican immigrants in about 1996.

This isn’t the first time Load Trail has been in trouble with ICE. In 2014, Load Trail was fined $445,000 for employing more than 170 unauthorized immigrants.

Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, HSI Dallas stated “Businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses. In addition, they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents, and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”

Being a repeat offender means it is likely that Load Trail will be facing substantial penalties as a repeat offender. It would not be a surprise to see some company officials facing jail time and the company paying over $1 million in penalties. Much will depend on whether company records, which were confiscated in the raid pursuant to a criminal search warrant, and testimony establish the company had direct or constructive knowledge of their employee’s undocumented status.

If you want to know more information on employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.