Illegal alien busted at work

We had a guy who’s been with our company for almost a year… He was a Mexican national, well educated and a decent worker. Like all of us he started as a contractor until the company was comfortable with the quality of his work at which point he was offered a position. (IT – database and development) But he elected to remain a contractor for “tax reasons.” Not suspicious, we have another guy who does the same thing.

Well, this week he was hired as an actual employee… And today he was absent for a good part of the day for “personal reasons.” As the office was closing the rest of us found out he had been released for reasons that couldn’t be disclosed for legal reasons…

Well that got a lot of us thinking… We figured it was probably having to do with immigration or the like – maybe he’d let his visa lapse or something. He was very big into law and order, and openly sneered at those who had to come into the country illegally. He owned a house, a car and was making long term plans to stay here as a citizen. So, we figured it was probably a mistake or honest snafu.

Except that the HR department found out his social security number was bogus as they processed his new employee status. Turns out he’s illegal all the way. Has been for the 5-6 years he’s been in the country.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand he was a good worker, and I thought of him as a friend. I like the idea of the US being a place where anybody from anywhere being able to come and build their fortune and future.

On the other hand, he lied to everybody in the place for almost a year, broke the law, hasn’t been paying his fair share in taxes and social security, and got himself terminated right when the project we’re working on enters a critical phase. When I think about all the tough talk about how Bush should seal the borders, clamp down on illegals and send them all back it pisses me off… He’s a guy with means and a brain… It’s not like he was sneaking across to work in a field. He was a DBA and developer. He just couldn’t be bothered to go through it by the numbners.x

I considered making this a pit thread so I could say what I really thought about this… Maybe I’ll change my mind before hitting submit…

Weird day!

‘Ah, Tibor, how many times have you saved my butt?’

Didn’t pay his fair share of FICA tax? How does that work exactly?

It seems to me ‘his’ percentage and the ‘employer’s contribution’ both went to a fake number and so it was paid into the system in such a way as he would never collect any of it.

Or perhaps I am misunderstanding.

FICA question already asked, so I’ll ask how you know that he didn’t file and pay federal and local taxes.

From what I understand about contractors in my company; they alone are responsible for their own tax obligations. So assuming this fellow was illegal, I doubt he was dilligently mailing off his quarterly taxes.

I’d like to know how he was able to buy a house and car without having any financial records.

If he did get a no-verification mortgage - which requires no paperwork and in exchange you pay a much higher interest rate - and he really wasn’t filing his tax returns showing self-employed payments of federal taxes/FICA/Medicare, then he never got the benefit of deducting his mortgage interest.

Too much information missing here. And way too many assumptions.

I know a few dba+dev’s that are looking for work because their jobs have been outsourced to India. So I don’t have much sympathy for that particular illegal. Oddly enough, I’m not some kind of a protectionist. I do believe that there should be a method to allow foreign workers to work in the US without resorting to being illegal.

Well I honestly can’t say anything for certain except he got bounced because he was illegal. The Dept. of Labor contacted HR because they saw a red flag in his lengthy contractor status. HR started going through paperwork and found a discrepancy with his SSN. they confronted him and when he couldn’t explain, he confessed to being illegal, and HR had no choice but to fire him. Nobody was happy about it.

He does have a house, and had a car. I can’t say how he got them, but he has them. Maybe it is an assumption that he paid no taxes and didn’t follow the law while he was here… Or maybe there’s a large infrastructure supporting illegals down here that makes it possible to get loans without the usual requirements. Assumptions, no information. But right now I (and everybody else in the company) are wondering if we even knew the dude’s real name. It brings up a whole host of questions about security and liability… He came to us through a recruiting firm, so they’re going to have some explaining to do… But it’s not going to make us look good for having this go on for so long. And then what clients will think about having an undocumented alien handling their data? Having him gone instantly is a huge deal because we’re in a crunch time. We’re scrambling to figure out what he was working on and where he was in the process. Who knows what affect this will do to project timelines. I’m sure this guy had no bad intentions and was just trying to make a living, but by cutting corners and living a lie for a year he’s potentially put the whole company in the jackpot.

And it’s a slap in the face to the other immigrant workers at our company who are here legitimately. We have a good mix here for a small company – lots of different skin tones, lots of different accents. But having been burned once, will the company want to take a chance in the future?

He was a good worker and we’ll miss him. But the more I think about this (and see the effect it’s having on my workplace) the madder I get. :mad:

A friend of the family who runs a restaurant learned one of her employees was illegal. The way she found out is that he didn’t show up for work one day, she called his house and found out that he had beaten his wife, got arrested, was determined to be an illegal alien, and had been deported! None of us ever knew. He had worked there for years.

Not long after, he contacted her, looking for a job. He was back in the country, illegally, and now had a different name and SSN. Needless to say, he didn’t get his job back.

I don’t know much about the subject but don’t we already have work visa programs for foreign workers?

We do, and eva luna is better versed in how they work, but in general a company would have to prove that they were unable to locate a qualified American worker before they can sponsor and hire someone. But I don’t think that the level of worker that gets these kinds of jobs are what NurseCarmen is talking about.

And ElectricZ, to respond to some of your points, it is not up to the employer to verify the … uh… veracity of documents that employees present. At the same time, they cannot discriminate against someone just because they believe their documents are fake. (I believe this is true.) This would be true as well for the recruiting firm. They are not on the hook if his SSN card or his Green Card were fake. That also addresses, IMO, concerns about how your company could have “let this go on so long”. As long as your company’s HR met their legal obligations, there was nothing to let go on so long.

And - this part is just my opinion - but anyone who would freak out about an otherwise qualified employee handling their data just because he didn’t have legal immigration status is a maroon. There are a lot of very intelligent, educated professionals in Latin America (I assume he’s from Latin America) who come to the US illegally because of economic pressures. I have a good friend with a college education in Mexico who’s working for $0.52 an hour, more or less, because there’s no jobs for him and as “only” the brother of a US citizen (his sister got her legal status a long time ago) it’ll be twenty years before he can legally emigrate to the US. This type of situation also explains why someone would “cut corners” to get into the US.

Just another perspective.

That’s mostly for workers in technical fields. The work visa requirements for less skilled laborers are different, and I believe that they vary depending on one’s country of origin.

It certainly could be, during the tech bubble’s hey day, I was working with foreign nationals from several different companies. And I was all for it. Even then, there were plenty of folks out there bitching about it and engaging in fear mongering. But the visa system is in place so that American citizens get the preferential treatment, which seems reasonable to me. A government’s responsibility is to it’s citizens.

It is correct that the hiring firm doesn’t have to verify that the I-9 documents are real or valid. They only have to see them. Nothing further is required. The I-9 goes into the personnel file, most likely never to be seen again.

Just out of interest, i’m curious about the moral distinction you seem to be drawing here.

Do you see some important moral or political difference between a guy who works illegally picking tomatoes and a guy who develops databases?

For an H-1B work visa, the typical one used for professional-level jobs, there is no requirement in most cases to prove you’ve tried to hire a U.S. worker first. It’s only at the green card stage that the employer is required to test the labor market. And contrary to a common misconception, H-1Bs aren’t just for tech jobs; they can be used to hire foreign nationals for any position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in a specific field.

Correct - in fact, as long as a document isn’t obviously fake on its face (and I’ve seen a few that were obvious forgeries, documents issued for a period of validity that they aren’t normally issued for, etc.), we generally caution HR/recruiting staff against questioning their validity for fear of being accused of employment discrimination based on national or ethnic origin, or foreign name or appearance.

Another thing to keep in mind - I have no idea what this guy’s employment setup was, but companies aren’t required to verify the immigration status of contractors; the company that is technically employing the contractor is required to. (Remember when Wal-Mart got in trouble for hiring a cleaning contractor that hired undocumented people, though? I’ve had to tell HR to boot contractors off site when it came to light they were out of status, for that matter. It happens once in a while when my employer wants to hire someone who has been working as a contractor as a full-time employee, and in the course of requesting docs to prepare an H-1B petition, I ask for a doc that seems to be missing and find out that it doesn’t exist. At that point, we generally retract the job offer.)

Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal

Companies I’ve worked for (high tech) wouldn’t even hire someone with H1Bs without a Masters. It was considered just too difficult to successfully test the labor market with a BS. There is now some sort of fast track program for people considered real experts. I’ve written a couple of letters for people in this category.

EZ, was this guy working for a contracting firm or for you as a self-employed contractor? In the former case, does the contracting agency have to pay social security and do withholding? If that is so, it should have been caught then. In the latter case, the person supposedly had to file self employment tax at the end of the year, and probably make estimated payments. You said you got him through a recruiter, so I assume the latter.

Did your company file 1099s for him? I wonder if it gets checked, or if the IRS just keeps them and compares against 1040s. (My wife is a freelancer, and I went over our taxes last night, so I’m up on this stuff.)

Except that if he presented them with a SSN card with his name on it, and the agency generally is not required to double check that it’s real, and if they could potentially open up a kettle of discrimination claims if they assume it’s fake, then it really wouldn’t be caught here normally. Remember, this only became an issue when the Dept. of Labor flagged him because of his lengthy contractor status and that’s what got the ball rolling.

From my experience working in immigration, I was told many times that the IRS is not in the business of enforcing the immigration laws. They’re in the business of collecting taxes. As long as they get paid according to the tax laws, that’s all they really care about.

That explains it. I wouldn’t have thought that the agency would have known, but the IRS would have flagged a name SSN mismatch. But if they don’t care …

Okay, so we found out that our former nanny was illegal. We had a copy of her SS card and paid all the taxes on her (Fed withholding, SS, Medicare).

Once, the gov’t contacted me to say that her name and SSN didn’t match. I reponded by checking the correct box on the form and including a Xerox of the SS card. They never said another word.

Since Maria will never file a tax return, the gov’t gets to keep all that money. The cynical part of me notes that proper (that is, tax-paying) employment of illegal immigrants is GOOD for the economy and the government! :wink: