Saturday, November 19, 2005

Why is this big news?

Illegal Workers at Wal-Mart Site Deported

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press Writer
Sat Nov 19, 4:04 AM ET

Federal officials say the arrest of 125 workers at a construction site for a new Wal-Mart distribution center should serve as a warning to employers who hire illegal immigrants.

All 125 workers arrested in the raid will be deported, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday. The workers from Mexico and Central America were detained Thursday at the site outside Pottsville, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

"Employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, and those who utilize false documents to gain employment, face significant criminal and administrative charges," said John Kelleghan, acting special agent-in-charge for the immigration agency in Pennsylvania.

Some of the 125 workers, who are from Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, used fake documents to obtain employment with subcontractors, officials said. The arrests came after search warrants were executed for six companies at the site.
The Pennsylvania job site remains shut down, Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires said Friday. He did not know when construction would resume.

Agents obtained the search warrants after learning that 10 workers employed by Destin Drywall & Paint were using Social Security numbers that did not match their names.
Another three used Social Security numbers that were never issued by the government, according to an affidavit unsealed Friday at U.S. District Court in Scranton.

Houston-based Destin has worked on Wal-Mart projects around the country, said office manager Cindy Wyman. She said the company verifies that employees are permitted to work in the United States. "As far as I know, their Social Security numbers are good," Wyman said of the Pennsylvania workers.

A Wal-Mart spokesman has said the detained workers were not employed by Wal-Mart but by the subcontractors. Wal-Mart's contracts with the companies require that they follow local, state and federal employment laws, the company said.

Last month, Wal-Mart shut down work on seven stores under construction in North Dakota to check for illegal aliens after two illegal immigrants working on Wal-Mart projects in Bismarck were charged with molesting two 13-year-old girls. Charges against one of the suspects were dropped after authorities found out he was a juvenile.

In 2003, a raid of 60 Wal-Mart stores in 21 states led to the arrests of 245 illegal workers. An affidavit claimed a pair of senior Wal-Mart executives knew cleaning contractors were hiring illegal immigrants. The retailer agreed to pay $11 million in March to settle the case but denied senior executives knew of the hirings.

(My Comments)

I can see this article showing up in the Pottsville local paper, but why does it merit more widespread attention? Could it be an attempt to appease those critical of the Bush Administration immigration policy?
Even though I choose not to shop at WalMart on matters of principle (mine, not theirs), I can't seem to get away from possessing items that have been made in China. The Walmartization of products dictates that they will be made in China because the labor force is malleable in the hands of a cruel corporation and the political minds that support it.
The illegal aliens mentioned in this article are simply another byproduct of Walmartization. Using a work force that is vulnerable to exploitation is how Walmart keeps cost down. I would like to see local mandates that demand the use of at least 75% local labor on every project executed in that particular community or county setting. Most projects are Government sponsored and funded at the county or state level anyway, so the money is being provided by those who should be benefiting from the availability of the work as well as the results of the work.
I have no problem with the people pouring across our southern border to find work. I would do the same were I in their position, and I would like to see an effort made to utilize their skills and abilities as soon as our own labor force is able to work at a sustainable level.
The companies mentioned in this article should be mandated locally to serve the common good of the community.

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