Wendy Padilla-Madden reports on Lawogix's I-9 blog that Howard Industries, the Laurel, MS company raided in 2008, has pled guilty and will pay $2.5 million, a record fine in Mississippi:



Howard Industries, a privately held manufacturer of electrical transmission and distribution equipment, pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy to violate immigration laws for actions discovered during an August 2008 immigration raid on the company's transformer plant in Laurel, Mississippi. The company also agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine (largest ever in the state of Mississippi), which is roughly 5 times the original base amount, for the actions of one human resources manager. Clearly, there was some wrong-doing here, but what exactly did the company do (or fail to do) to earn such a dubious distinction within the state of Mississippi? Let's take a trip down memory lane.


The Nation's Largest Workplace Immigration Raid


On August 25, 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in consultation with the US Attorneys' office raided the company's manufacturing plant in Laurel, Mississippi and arrested 595 workers who were believed to be undocumented. Approximately 475 of these workers were sent to a detention center and most of them were later deported (few were convicted on identity theft charges). Meanwhile, the company repeatedly denied allegations that it had knowingly hired individuals without work authorization, putting all of the blame on its human resources manager, Jose Humberto Gonzalez, who was later charged in a 25-count indictment with conspiracy and employee verification fraud.