ICE Fines Broetje
Broetje Orchards has agreed to pay $2.25 million dollars, one of the largest fines in northwest history. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency or ICE audits uncovered a large number of unauthorized workers. Mike Gempler with Washington Growers League says this should a wake up call.
GEMPLER: What I think it will do is remind people that the immigration laws are enforced by the Obama Administration to a certain degree and I think it will remind people in the industry that they have to work to comply with the law. That they can't ignore the law. I think that the vast majority of ag employers in Washington State are very aware of immigration laws and a pretty good job of compliance. Probably a better job than people in other industries.
He says that ag employers know the statistic that 50% of ag workers in the U.S. are undocumented.
GEMPLER: The law requires employers and every industry including agriculture to visually inspect documents that prove a persons identity and their authorization to work in the United States. If those documents appear to be genuine and the person is qualified for the job then they have to continue to employ them. They actually do this after they his the person, within three days of hiring and if they can't produce the documents within three days they're fired.
Gempler doubts that the large fine will bring additional focus on the area.
GEMPLER: They do I-9 audits in all industries. I don't think they've focused on agriculture. They probably could focus all their resources on agriculture and that would be pretty painful
That's today's Fruit Grower Report. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network of the West.