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Federal government cracks down on hiring illegal immigrants in Kansas

December 4, 2012, 12:01 p.m. Updated December 4, 2012, 4:10 p.m.

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— A company that employed illegal immigrants at its McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita has been ordered to pay $400,000 as part of a federal crackdown in Kansas on companies that knowingly hire workers who are unlawfully in the United States.

The U.S. attorney’s office announced Tuesday that McCalla Corp. had pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly accepting a fraudulent identification document as proof of employment eligibility. Under the settlement, the Wichita-based company paid a $300,000 fine and a $100,000 forfeiture.

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom told The Associated Press that the Justice Department has to deal with the realities of budgetary constraints and that it makes sense from a “cost-effective standpoint” to go after the employers.

“If nobody is employing undocumented workers, then we don’t have an illegal immigration issue to deal with,” he said in a phone interview.

McCalla operates six McDonald’s restaurants in Wichita. Investigators found that managers at five of those six restaurants were unlawfully in the country, and that they in turn hired other undocumented workers, Grissom said.

The government estimated that between 20 and 30 illegal immigrants worked at the restaurants between May 2009 and September 2012.

The $100,000 forfeiture represented the “unjust enrichment” the corporation had garnered as a result of hiring illegal immigrants at a reduced rate and not having to payroll taxes such as Social Security, Medicare and other withholding taxes, Grissom said.

McCalla’s attorney, Lee Thompson, said the company has already paid the fines, and “is a good corporate citizen and accepts responsibilities for the acts of its employees.” He noted that the criminal charge was “very limited” to one incident.

When the firm was first charged in October, McCalla President Roy McCalla said the incident did not reflect his company’s policies.

But the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement Tuesday that any attempt to minimize or excuse this kind of conduct is unacceptable. We know these practices are widespread, and investigations similar to the McCalla case are under way.”

Grissom declined to say how many such investigations were under way, but said they were in both urban and rural settings.

McCalla is the second Kansas company this year to be prosecuted for knowingly employing illegal immigrants.

In September, the U.S. attorney’s office charged the owners of two Clarion hotels — one in Kansas City and the other in Overland Park — after finding half of their employees were illegal immigrants.

The owners, a suburban Kansas City couple, face charges including conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for personal gain. If convicted, they could lose their two hotels, bank accounts and spend decades in prison.

Grissom said going after business owners is more effective than showing up at a job site and arresting illegal immigrant workers, which he said usually results in other undocumented workers replacing them in a few days.

“So the most cost-effective message we can send out is, if you as an employer are knowingly hiring undocumented persons, then we are going to pursue you,” Grissom said. “This is going to send a very loud and clear message.”

Comments

Liberty275 1 year, 4 months ago

The left is gung ho about prosecuting companies that hire undocumented aliens, and that is their take on the best way to fix the problem. OTOH, if we start fining companies, they aren't going to hire the undocumented workers, our prices will rise and people will lose the jobs that feeds their families.

I think the right with it's jingoistic bigotry is bad, but the left is no better. They will starve the undocumented workers and put small business out of work.

IMO, the border should be open, undocumented workers should be allowed to work here and if they commit a felony, they serve their prison term and are deported. If they show up again, more prison, more deportation.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 4 months ago

The illegals are not the problem, they come and go. It is the legal Mexicans who bring over their parents, grandparents and other relatives and they get on assistance programs. FACT!

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Starlight 1 year, 4 months ago

The thought of Briseis serving up my burgers and fries instead of a hardworking hispanic immigrant frightens me.

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Briseis 1 year, 4 months ago

Why are trespassers allowed to run free? They are greedy taking only for themselves. They should be stopped.

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workinghard 1 year, 4 months ago

What I'm not seeing discussed here is that in many cases illegal immigrants are using a stolen social security number. I cannot forget the seeing the 80+ yr old lady in the office were I was waiting to get my income taxes done. She had tried to submit her taxes and get her refund but it was rejected because somebody had turned in taxes for that year under her name. She needed that money and not in 6 months or a year that it would have taken to straighten it out.

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KEITHMILES05 1 year, 4 months ago

This is where the corporate greed will be nailed. Kudos to the DOJ.

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kernal 1 year, 4 months ago

I imagine people smuggled into this country as sex slaves and indentured servants would love to go back home just so long as they have a home to go to and won't be ostracized, tortured or imprisoned for what happened to them. Especially the children.

Don't think the illegals are just those from South of the border. They include Europeans and Asians as well.

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Ray Parker 1 year, 4 months ago

Illegal aliens are taking jobs that Americans do not want. Our citizens do not want to work for a manager who is an illegal alien. Build the dang fence. Run 'em out.

Border Fence

Border Fence by parkay

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 4 months ago

Illegals are better suited for unskilled labor for the fact that legals past the age of 18 don't want those jobs. Let illegals work, employers pay proper taxes like s.s. that the illegal won't qualify for anyway and will most likely be back in Mexico in few years anyway. Anyone who thinks an American over 18 wants a job at McDonald's has no idea what they are talking about. If I am wrong, why is every McDonald's in the nation hiring every day of the year?

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ljreader 1 year, 4 months ago

I work with a gal who said her kid tried applying at 3 different McDonalds locations in Lawrence, and claims they told him they wouldn't hire him because he doesn't speak Spanish. Don't know if this is true, but it should be against the law if it is. I have another friend who has been in construction all his life. Applied with a local contractor and was told the same thing. This story I know is true. Soon, we'll have 20 million more eligible to work legally once the O gives them all amnesty. It sucks to be an American citizen these days.

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Richard Payton 1 year, 4 months ago

Did they work for under the federal minimum wage?

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Gandalf 1 year, 4 months ago

Now they should check out a place in Lenexa called Dimension Graphics. I know they hired people under more than one set of ID.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Anyone who does not make the distinction between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants is doing a disservice to having an honest discussion.

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Alyosha 1 year, 4 months ago

"Foreigners," as you so know-nothingly put it, aren't the issue. Company's hiring workers without the necessary and proper work visa status are the issue.

Every American came from "foreign" ancestry at one time, even those of us whose families who've been here since before the Revolution.

Why on earth would you care how many "foreigners" KU employs? (And why do you put it in quotes?)

Here's some reading for you so you can put your "thoughts" in historical perspective:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/xenophobia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativism_(politics)

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lawrenceguy40 1 year, 4 months ago

Good work from the feds.

Now they should go after the legal immigrants. After barry o finishes with our country, we are going to need all the jobs we can get for Americans. Does anyone know how many foreigners ku "employs"?

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Cait McKnelly 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh this isn't going to go over well.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 4 months ago

Good for them. Now cut some people off of welfare and send them to work at McDonalds.

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