Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $11 million to settle a case in which it was accused of knowingly
using hundreds of undocumented workers hired by contractors to clean the floors
in its stores, the company and federal officials announced in statements.
In settling the investigation, the company denies any wrongdoing.
"Today, we are acknowledging that our compliance program did not include
all the procedures necessary to identify independent floor cleaning contractors
who did not comply with federal immigration laws," says Tom Mars, Wal-Mart's
general counsel. "We will use this as an opportunity to improve and be
a better, more tightly run business as a result."
In 2003, federal investigators swept through 60 Wal-Mart stores, arresting
245 individuals on immigration charges.
Today, in a related development, 12 corporations that provided contract janitorial
services to Wal-Mart stores throughout the United States between 1998 and 2002,
and were alleged to have actually employed undocumented workers, have agreed
to forfeit an additional $4 million to the government and have agreed to enter
corporate guilty pleas to criminal immigration charges, according to U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement officials.
According to federal officials, the $11 million civil settlement and the $4
million criminal forfeiture announced today constitute the two most significant
enforcement actions taken by the United States in the field of immigration employment
sanctions since the laws prohibiting employment of illegal aliens were first
enacted in 1986. The $11 million civil settlement alone is approximately four
times larger than any other single payment received by the government in an
illegal alien employment case.
"This case breaks new ground not only because this is a record dollar
amount for a civil immigration settlement, but because this settlement requires
Wal-Mart to create an internal program to ensure future compliance with immigration
laws by Wal-Mart contractors and by Wal-Mart itself," says Michael J. Garcia,
Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and