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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Washington Apple Orchard To Pay Record Fine For Immigration Violations

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Anna King/Northwest News Network
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The apple packing line at Broetje Orchards in Prescott, Washington.

Immigration officials have busted an Eastern Washington farm for major violations. Now, the farm is set to pay the largest fine ever in the state for illegally hiring workers.

TRANSCRIPT

Broetje Orchards runs a huge apple and cherry farm near Walla Walla – it’s one of the largest in the U.S.

Last summer immigration officials reviewed their employment records and warned the company 950 of its workers did not appear to have permission to work in the U.S.

Now the company faces a record fine because it knowingly continued to employ those workers. That’s according to a settlement Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, announced Wednesday.

Under the agreement, Broetje Orchards will pay $2 .25 million in civil penalties.

The company did not admit to any criminal wrongdoing, but did acknowledge it kept workers on the books after the ICE audit revealed problems.

ICE routinely conducts these employment audits to target businesses that knowingly hire unauthorized workers. They’re sometimes called “silent raids,” and mark a shift away from the more visible workforce raids commonly seen in the past.

 

Year started with KUOW: 2006