Homeland Security Auditing Mi Pueblo Documentation

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Mi Pueblo Foods [4] here said Friday the Department of Homeland Security is conducting an audit of its I-9 employment eligibility verification documentation to make sure all of its 3,200 employees meet legal requirements for employment.

According to Perla Rodriguez, vice president of public affairs, "As far as we know today, everyone is legal to work and has provided proper documentation to complete the I-9 form. The thought of losing even one member of the Mi Pueblo family due to a government order pains us greatly."

In response to the audit, which began in mid-August, the company said its leaders have visited each of the 21 Mi Pueblo stores to speak directly with employees to explain its immigration compliance policies and to dispel any misinformation about the audit. "Some people have been saying we are being fined millions of dollars and spreading other misinformation about why we are being audited and why we started using E-Verify for new hires," Rodriguez told SN. 

The company said it has been "vigilant" in complying with the requirements of the audit and in adhering to the recommendations of the Department of Homeland Security.  It also said such audits are generally triggered by public complaints, and it said it did not know how long the audit process would last.

Read more: Group Calls for Boycott of Mi Pueblo [5]

In a press statement, Julie A. Pace, an attorney with the Cavanagh Law Firm, Phoenix, said,  "Mi Pueblo takes compliance with immigration laws seriously, and it complies with all laws.  The company registered for E-Verify at the strong recommendation of the federal government, which arose after the I-9 audit started, [and it] uses E-Verify for new hires only.

"The company does not, and cannot by law, use E-Verify with current employees.  The company has trained its managers and hiring personnel regarding proper hiring procedures.  The company reviews documentation and completes the I-9 form for every employee.  The company does not hire any individuals unable to meet the legal requirements for establishing authorization to work.

"The reality of our immigration system is that even companies who follow all the steps under the law could have an undocumented person on payroll because some workers present documents that are counterfeit ... and employers are required to accept the documents because they appear genuine and reasonable.  Mistakenly hiring persons who turn out to not be authorized to work in the U.S. is not a crime."

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