In what should serve a warning to U.S. employers about the dangers of hiring illegal workers and how the government is focusing less on workplace raids targeting illegal workers and more on the employers who hire them, a story in The Bellingham (WA) Herald reports that two employees from a Bellingham, Washington business raided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers earlier this year are facing felony charges related to employing illegal workers.

Officers from ICE raided Yamato Engine Specialists on February 24, 2009 – the first work-site raid of the Obama administration – and detained 28 illegal workers, most of whom were later given papers to work legally in the U.S. in exchange for cooperating with the investigation, the story reports.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, the story reports that two Yamato employees were charged with knowingly allowing illegal workers to use fake documents and the company was charged with encouraging an illegal immigrant to live in the U.S.

These charges, as reported by The Bellingham Herald, include:

  • Making and using, on more than one occasion, a false Employment Eligibility Verification Form – also known as the “I-9 Form” – for an illegal worker not authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Knowingly combining, conspiring, and agreeing to encourage and induce illegal workers to reside in the U.S., despite knowing it was a violation of U.S. law. 

If found guilty, the penalty is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the story reports.

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