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March 18, 2005
Wal-Mart to Pay $11M to Settle Immigration Investigation
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.

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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 Customs Enforcement.

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