Broetje Orchards to Pay
... the company acknowledged that it continued to employ unauthorized workers
after being advised they did not have permission to work in the United States.
SPOKANE -- Broetje Orchards, a major apple producer east of the Tri-Cities, will pay a record $2.25 million in civil penalties for failing to verify the eligibility of its employees to work in the United States, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday.
Mike Gempler, executive director of the Yakima-based Washington Growers League, said Thursday that Broetje's massive fine is a classic example of why federal lawmakers must pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"It really underscores the need for Congress to move on immigration reform," Gempler said. "I think that's what this is all about."
Gempler said growers know what needs to be done at the highest level, but lawmakers lack the "political will" to reach a solution that satisfies all sides of the debate.
Broetje Orchards LLC of Prescott reached the settlement with ICE this week. The penalty amount is an ICE record for Washington state, the agency said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it audited the company's records last summer and found that nearly 950 of its employees over several years were suspected of not being authorized to work in the United States.
Under the settlement, Broetje Orchards did not admit to any criminal wrongdoing. But the company acknowledged that it continued to employ unauthorized workers after being advised they did not have permission to work in the United States.
"We are pleased to put this process behind us and to get back to the business of growing fruit," the company said in a news release.
But the case, the company continued, illustrates the need for immigration reform.
"This case nevertheless highlights what is clearly a dysfunctional and broken immigration system," the company said, and urged Congress to pass immigration reform.
Broetje Orchards Puts People Before Profits by Stan Friedman, The Christian Century, 11/18/8
Irrigation from 4 Lower Snake Reservoirs by Reed Burkholder, Fact Sheet 1993
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