Documenting employees is already required|OUR OPINION

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2008

It was a major story that got lost, sort of, in part because it developed in towns remote from the state’s media center and in part because it was overshadowed by Gustav and political conditions. But the raid by federal agents on Howard Industries in Laurel and Ellisville on Aug. 25 should not pass without notice.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had taken into custody 595 people suspected of living and working in the United States illegally following an investigation that had taken place over several years. Apparently, it came as no surprise to area residents who had every reason to believe the company was employing illegal workers.

Howard is a major industrial company in that part of the state and, as might be expected, quickly denied that it had knowingly hired illegal workers.

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Pardon us, but it’s hard to believe any company of any size could be issuing nearly 600 paychecks to people and have absolutely no idea they weren’t properly credentialed for employment in America.

We hope this serves as notice to other employers. And we hope the company, if complicit, is held responsible for violating longstanding federal and new state laws.

When it comes to immigration, the resounding shout is for reform. Maybe some of that is needed. But in the meantime, there are existing statutes to enforce. All employers in Mississippi and across the rest of America are required to document the employment eligibility of every person in their work forces. Those who skirt this law should know they do so at their own peril.