Immigration Newsletter

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Associated Press: Vermont dairy farmer talks about immigration probe

The Associated Press: Vermont dairy farmer talks about immigration probe

This AP story describes what generally happens during an I-9 audit when ICE comes to visit. Sounds like they are being a little kinder & gentler these days. If you are a business owner who gets audited don't count on it going this smoothly.

excerpt from the story...

He would like to be able to hire foreign farmworkers on temporary visas for several years at a time. Because their business is year-round, dairy farms aren't eligible for workers under the H2A temporary visa worker programs used by crop farmers.

With 950 cows that need to be milked three times a day, Gervais said he's struggled to find reliable workers. Many apply only when they can't find work elsewhere. They often have drug or alcohol problems or troubles at home, he said. He pays his staff $10 to $12 an hour, but said milking can be monotonous and not everyone enjoys it or is good working with animals.

"There's not enough people that want to do it. That's the real, true issue," Gervais said. "I mean there's good Americans that can milk, but there's not enough of them that can and want to."

He was irked that dairy farms — having endured a year of the lowest milk prices in memory — were targeted by investigators.

"With the situation the dairy industry is in, we really don't need this right now," he said. "We're got plenty going on just making a living."

But it could have been worse, he said.

Instead of rounding up workers, the inspector came to the milking barn looking for Gervais. She told him she was doing a random audit and asked for the paperwork. Immigration officials later went through the forms with a fine-tooth comb and found errors, which were largely clerical, Gervais said. They asked for the payroll a second time and eventually told him three workers were illegal. Gervais had talked to several lawyers and didn't know what to expect.