Earlier this month, a Washington fruit orchard, Broetje Orchards, settled an ongoing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit and agreed to pay ICE $2.25 million in a lump-sum fine. The fine was part of a settlement with ICE to resolve the orchard’s violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
According to ICE, Broetje Orchards continued to employ close to 1,000 workers who were not authorized to work in the United States, even after ICE warned the orchard not to do so. During a Form I-9 employment verification audit that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted last summer, ICE discovered that the orchard had and continued to employ 950 unauthorized employees.
The terms of the settlement allow Broetje Orchards to acknowledge HIS’s findings without admitting any criminal wrongdoing. The orchard’s payment of the fine will release it from any further liability associated with its alleged violations by ICE.
In a statement from Raphael Sanchez, ICE’s chief counsel in Seattle, he stated that ICE believes the fine “holds this business accountable, but does not cripple its ability to provide jobs to lawful workers.” Employers should make sure to comply with immigration laws and conduct regular Form I-9 audits.