PICKENS COUNTY — The School District of Pickens County learned recently that five subcontractors involved with the district’s building program employed illegal workers, following the results of an investigation by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The district invited LLR to inspect construction sites for undocumented workers. The summary report is the first official reported received by the district after the investigation began, said Julie Thompson, director of communications. LLR reported that a total of 35 illegal aliens had been employed at construction sites by five subcontractors.

“These are serious violations,” said Dr. Henry Hunt, superintendent. “We have continually stressed to our general contractors that the district expects, and our contracts require, general contractors and all subcontractors to follow all laws and regulations in constructing our schools. We will be consulting with our attorneys to determine appropriate action.” All general contractors were found to be compliant, the report stated.

The South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act requires that verify the authorization to work in the United States of all new hires.

After completing a federal employment eligibility form, or I-9, the law requires that employers, within five business days of hiring a new employee, must verify the employee’s work authorization through the E-Verify program, or verify that the employee possess, or is eligible to possesses a valid SC driver’s license or DMV-issued ID or a valid driver’s licenses or ID card from another state whose qualifications are as strict as South Carolina’s, the report stated.

Employers may not, at any time, employ workers who are not authorized to work in the U.S. For employers employing more than 100 workers, the law came into effect July 1, 2009. For those employing less than 100 workers, the law went into effect July 1, 2010.

An inspection in Nov. 2009 found that all general contractors employing 100 or more workers were covered by the law, and in compliance, the report stated.

On July 1, after the law became effective for every employee working on the construction projects, the LLR Department began investigating all employers on site, and that investigation is still ongoing, the report stated.

The report stated that the 35 illegals were found working at the new Pickens County Career and Technology Center, the new Liberty High School site, the new Dacusville elementary site and the new Pickens High School site.

5 illegals were identified at the new career center site. The subcontractor employer, Land Construction of Seneca, terminated the illegals and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were notified, the report stated.

One illegal alien employed by B & B Plumbing of Starr was discovered working at the new career center site. That employee has been terminated and ICE was notified.

21 illegal employees employed by Cherokee Masonry of Gaffney were found to be working at the new Liberty High School site. Those employees have been terminated and ICE has been notified, the report stated.

At the new Dacusville Elementary site, 5 illegal aliens working for Rangel Masonry of Winder, GA were identified. They have been terminated and ICE was notified of their status.

3 illegal aliens were identified at the new Pickens High School. Their employer, Kent Companies of Grand Rapids, Michigan, terminated their employment and ICE was notified. A follow-up investigation by Labor, Licensing and Regulation found that the employer had hired a new worker without verifying him according to SC law.