Thursday, April 17, 2008

Georgia employment agency owners charged with supplying illegal workers

The owners of six Georgia employment agencies have been indicted on charges of providing illegal immigrants to work in Chinese restaurants on the East Coast. Defendants include the agency owners; drivers who transported the workers; operators of 'safe houses' where immigrants waited for jobs; and immigrant smugglers who brought the workers to Georgia from Florida.

Each agency operated somewhat differently, but all in general recruited Mexican or Central American illegal workers. The agencies would obtain the illegal immigrants by advertising in ethnic newspapers or direct referrals from immigrant smugglers or 'coyotes,' and also accepted 'walk-ins.' They charged a commission of hundreds of dollars to place the worker, which was deducted from wages.

The agencies placed workers in Georgia, and in Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, according to the indictment.

Restaurant owners would work the immigrants long hours, pay cash and not withhold state or federal taxes. They gave them food and housing, but paid $3 or $5 per hour in some cases.

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