Houston Chronicle (01/25/12) Susan Carroll
U.S. immigration officials and federal prosecutors announced on Jan. 24 they had reached a $2 million settlement with Advanced Containment System Inc. in exchange for avoiding criminal prosecution. Approximately 44% of ACI’s Houston work force from 2005 to 2009 was in the country illegally and was paid an estimated $2 million during that time. A second Houston company, Champion Window, also has agreed to forfeit $2 million to the government after an audit last year found 269 of its 451 workers—about 60% of its work force—lacked legal status.
“Each company is forfeiting a substantial amount of money,” says Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations in Houston. “It sends a message that these actions—while not criminally prosecuted—still have consequences.” The deals are part of the Obama administration’s strategy to target employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, rather than staging high-profile workplace raids. In the 2010 fiscal year, U.S. immigration officials’ work site probes resulted in a record $36.6 million in judicial fines, forfeitures, and restitutions.