The high profile raid of the French Gourmet earlier this year has led to a national spotlight on the restaurant industry. A recent NY Times article Immigration Debate Steps Into the Kitchen highlights ICE’s crackdown on a common restaurant practices of lax verification of work authorization of employees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics an estimated 1.4 million of the 12.7 million workers in the restaurant industry are foreign born. Some employers, such as this Manhattan chef actually prefer to hire illegal foreign workers: “We always, always hire the undocumented workers,” he said. “It’s not just me, it’s everybody in the industry. First, they are willing to do the work. Second, they are willing to learn. Third, they are not paid as well. It’s an economic decision. It’s less expensive to hire an undocumented person.”
The current crackdown, may have this Manhattan owner and others rethinking this business practice as some owners now face stiff fines and possible prison time because they knowingly hired illegal immigrants. These raids illustrate the need for businesses wishing to comply with the law that they must carefully review I-9s and other employment documentation of their workforce. If you are the victim of such a raid, or are visited by the work and hour division, we recommend you contact an immigration lawyer immediately.