HSI to go after businesses that hire unauthorized workers

Businesses that hire unauthorized workers would ultimately find themselves on the watch list of the Homeland Security Investigations, one of the components of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the Enforcement and Removal Operations being the other one.

ICE, a federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security, is the second largest investigative group under the U.S. government next only to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

ICE public affairs officer/spokeswoman Lori K. Haley, in an email to the Saipan Tribune, said HSI base their investigations related to worksite enforcement on specific intelligence.

“HSI gets its lead in these types of cases from a variety of sources—tips from the public, reports from a company’s current or former employees, even referrals from other law enforcement agencies,” said Haley.

She added that they prioritize criminally prosecuting employers that utilize unauthorized workers as a business model, mistreat their workers, engage in human smuggling or trafficking, engage in identity and benefit fraud, those involve in money laundering activities, and those who participate in other criminal conduct.

Haley said HSI’s commitment is to protect all employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce and at the same time target businesses that knowingly hired unauthorized workers.

“The agency’s worksite enforcement efforts are focused on investigating and criminally prosecuting businesses and organizations that knowingly hire unauthorized workers, frequently exploiting them, and subjecting them to substandard or dangerous working conditions,” she said.

“Such practices give unscrupulous employers a competitive edge over law-abiding businesses that play by the rules and pay prevailing wages and benefits.”

Haley, however, declined to comment if HSI had already began investigating on the alleged hiring of unauthorized construction workers in the CNMI. “As a matter of policy, we do not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation unless or until it results in some otherwise public enforcement action.”

FBI spokesperson Michele Ernst has also declined to comment when Saipan Tribune asked if reports were true that some of the unauthorized workers had already left Saipan.

The report said the CNMI Department of Labor has allegedly prevented them to leave the CNMI since they have been conducting an ongoing investigation.

Ernst said the FBI has no further comment regarding the ongoing investigation against MCC International and Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd., which are both contractors working on the Imperial Pacific Resort.

Incidents jeopardizes China parole

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the recent incidents involving Chinese tourists working at the construction project of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC would jeopardize the parole program given to Chinese nationals.

He said that tourists coming in to the CNMI should not lie to CBP officers. “I want to assure everyone that the administration does not favor any action of wrongdoing. This is a two-pronged approach: first, don’t lie to CBP, when you come in, and if you are going to come in as tourists, then be a tourist, we welcome that.”

“And then the government is going to be blamed for them lying? These kinds of actions by both tourists that come in and later end up working, and companies that do not take care of them humanitarian wise are jeopardizing our ability to continue with the China parole program.”

He said that he is fully aware of the protests and have been continuously updated on the current situation. “Right after this, we’re going to have a different approach to any business licensee coming in as a workforce or agents. To all of them.”

“I’m aware of the protests and I reached to IPI about it. I’m also trying to get in touch with the construction company, which hired them. Unfortunately they are nowhere to be found, as of [Wednesday].”

Torres added that he has also talked to Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter to see how the CNMI government can assist the displaced construction workers.

“We’re taking things into our hands to make sure they are protected and their well being also preserved. [Workers without passports and wages] is definitely a huge concern for us. For them not being treated fairly and right is not acceptable.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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