The company's owner said nothing suspicious popped up during employment screenings, even though federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators later found several employees were undocumented, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Company owner James D. Reid told the Post he's in a pickle because he has been fined after ICE investigators said he failed to document his workers. While admitting mistakes were made, Reid said he did check the workers' documentation.
Reid told the Post it is unreasonable to expect businesspeople to distinguish between fake and genuine documentation, adding he may have to close the company because of the $22,880 fine.
In this type of investigation, ICE focuses on employers, not where employees are sent, Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said, meaning contractors are responsible for ensuring the legal status of their workers.
The Chertoffs were assured by Reid that workers sent to their home were legal, Knocke said. Once they learned that Reid may have hired illegal immigrants, the Chertoffs fired him, and the secretary recused himself from subsequent enforcement actions.
"This matter illustrates the need for comprehensive immigration reform and the importance of effective tools for companies to determine the lawful status of their workforce," he said.