By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

As a result of an ICE raid, two Mexican restaurants in Stillwater, Oklahoma abruptly shut down. In early September 2019, ICE raided Palomino’s and El Vaquero, which resulted in the charge that Hector Flores-Contreras, an assistant manager at El Vaquero, conspired to harbor undocumented workers. Between El Vaquero and Palomino’s, ICE detained 14 workers they allege were in the country illegally. In the affidavit among the court records, Hector Flores-Contreras told authorities he used undocumented labor because they were “harder workers,” and it is alleged he would get kickbacks on tips for helping relocate their family members to the U.S.

On the day of the raids, an employee told ICE agents he had to pay “$500 to $800 cash out of each check to repay the $6,000 in smugglers’ fees.” He said he made those payments for two and a half years. He also told agents up to five men shared a small two-bedroom home directly behind El Vaquero that they had to pay rent for as well.

If you are concerned about your company’s immigration compliance, including employment of undocumented workers, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, available at