Undocumented Workers Cleaned Chertoff's Home

Most people could care less if the landscaping or house cleaning firm they hire employs undocumented workers. But most people aren't in charge of Homeland Security.

Every few weeks for nearly four years, the Secret Service screened the IDs of employees for a Maryland cleaning company before they entered the house of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the nation's top immigration official. The company's owner says the workers sailed through the checks -- although some of them turned out to be illegal immigrants.

The owner of the cleaning firm is understandably grumpy that the IDs were good enough for the Secret Service but not for ICE, which fined the company more than $20,000 for neglecting "to check identification and work documents and fill out required I-9 verification forms." [more ...]

This complaint also has merit:

Immigration laws are unevenly enforced, he added, allowing big companies to stay in business while crushing small-business owners and workers. He said the rules punish "scapegoats" such as him while inviting people at every level -- customers, subcontractors and contractors -- to look the other way while benefiting economically from cheaper labor.

Chertoff isn't the only Homeland Security employee to let undocumented workers into his or her home:

Chertoff's situation appeared to be different from a case announced last week in which federal prosecutors arrested Lorraine Henderson, the Boston port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, another part of Chertoff's department, on charges that she repeatedly hired illegal immigrants to clean her condominium.

Homeland Security has nothing more important to do than police the nation's cleaning crews? How is this making the homeland more secure?

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  • Display: Sort:
    apparently, (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by cpinva on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 03:59:37 PM EST
    the owner of the company in question didn't even bother wasting time on the absolute minimum requirements, having the prospective employees complete Form I-9. had he done so, and gotten acceptable documentation with it, he'd have at least one leg to stand on.

    i realize it's just another administrative layer, but that's part of the deal when you become an employer. i will say, i'm surprised the secret service didn't request them (completed I-9's) when conducting their background checks.

    i don't particularly care for mr. chertoff, but in this instance, i must come to his defence. he did everything reasonable in this circumstance, relying not only on the actual employer, but on the secret service, to vet the workers.

    expecting him (or anyone else similarly situated) to personally check out the bona fides of these people is unreasonable, regardless of his position.

    How does it work? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Steve M on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 04:50:15 PM EST
    Does the employer complete the I-9s and then stick them in a drawer, or do they actually file them with the government upon completion?  I agree that it's far from unreasonable to expect employers to complete that silly form as a minimal first step.

    Stick them in a drawer (none / 0) (#10)
    by TChris on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 05:17:22 PM EST
    where, most of the time, they are never seen again.

    Okay (none / 0) (#13)
    by Steve M on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 06:07:38 PM EST
    I guess I could have gone down to HR and asked the same question, but laziness overcame me.  I assume the point, like with many federal regulations, is that you're required to maintain those records for X years in case the Feds want to see them.

    I guess I'm in agreement with cpinva that it's hard to have much sympathy for the employer when he didn't even fill out the I-9 forms.  Generally speaking, I think there's a limit to what we can expect of employers in terms of deputizing them as immigration cops, but I don't think completing that form is too much to ask.  As to why the Secret Service didn't ask to see those forms, that's a good question, but maybe they don't believe citizenship and security have much to do with one another.  It's their job to protect Chertoff from harm, after all, not from political embarrassment.


    Why isn't Chertoff... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 12:39:29 PM EST
    being charged with a crime?  They charged Henderson.

    I don't think either one should be, or the cleaning company ownerand the workers for that matter..but I think Chertoff thinks that people like Chertoff should be...those that employ/aid/abet undocumented citizens of earth.

    Why (none / 0) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 05:28:18 PM EST
    Herderson was the employer of the illegals.

    Chertoff was not..


    Not even aiding and abetting?...n/t (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 05:33:35 PM EST
    He (none / 0) (#14)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 07:58:37 AM EST

    He just hired a cleaning service.  He no more aided or abetted than if you went through a car wash that had hired an illegal ot two.

    He hired... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 08:12:58 AM EST
    an illegal cleaning service.  If it wasn't for people like Chertoff we wouldn't have an immigration problem.  /snark

    That's why I wash my own car and mow my own lawn...the law must be respected or we will descend into chaos! /more snark


    illegal cleaning service (none / 0) (#18)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 09:03:03 AM EST

    Is that so?  Or was a legal service hired that hired illegals?

    Is there a law against (none / 0) (#2)
    by Fabian on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 12:48:44 PM EST
    professional hypocrisy or professional incompetence?

    Now it's no mystery how Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert got past the White House security checks.  Heck, ObL himself could probably get a shave and a haircut, a three piece suit and a set of false documents and show up at a White House presser.

    Wow (none / 0) (#3)
    by sj on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 12:52:17 PM EST
    From the article:

    Raising a common objection among employers as ICE cracks down on illegal hirings across the country, Reid said it is unreasonable to expect businesspeople to distinguish between fake and real driver's licenses and Social Security cards.

    There's obviously fake and then there's a reasonable facsimile.  My own driver's license has been through through the wash/dry cycle a "couple of" times and doesn't look particularly official right now.  But it is.

    How is my employer supposed to determine the difference?

    merely look at your DL...

    There are actual government guides (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fabian on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 12:59:13 PM EST
    that employers can ask for that tell what is and is not acceptable documentation and how to tell the difference between the real thing and fakes.  (To some extent.  There are very good fakes.)

    There are very good fakes (none / 0) (#15)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 08:04:26 AM EST
    (To some extent.  There are very good fakes.)

    This is the root of the problem with employer sanctions.  An employer that is tricked by a good fake is a victim not a criminal.  On the other hand there employers that will let themselves be tricked by a Wheaties box top.  

    IMO, we shouls require employers to report SSN's and thats all.  After that the authorities can take over.


    Every employer... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 08:15:50 AM EST
    as a deputy, every banker as a deputy, every doctor as a deputy.

    And they don't even get shiny badges, who is their PBA rep?


    I'm not sure a cop is a good analogy (none / 0) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 11:43:56 AM EST
    more like a bartender, imo, in that they have to reasonably verify the legality of the applicant.

    Bartenders.... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 11:49:50 AM EST
    another deputy I forgot to mention:)

    But deputies arrest your arse, (none / 0) (#21)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 11:53:51 AM EST
    bartenders and employers just tell you to get lost. Or at least, that's what they're supposed to do...

    I see your point... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 12:02:08 PM EST
    if they are required to report you to the proper authorities...like banks and doctors...that is more in line with a deputy.

    I don't think bartenders or employers are required to report fake ids or illegal workers/drinkers, they just can't serve/hire them.


    of the cooks and busboys in the restaurant they ate in last night...

    yep (none / 0) (#9)
    by Nasarius on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 04:55:34 PM EST
    It is the duty of every citizen to demand proof of legal residence from any vaguely brownish person, especially if they have a funny accent.

    But really, the bizarre and notable part of this story is that the Secret Service let these people slip by. Either their checks utterly failed to recognize a major issue, or they noticed there were illegal immigrants and gave an OK anyway. Either way it's worth asking...WTF? It's certainly not the responsibility of the Secret Service to enforce immigration laws, but somehow somewhere a big red "unknown person" flag should have been raised, right? Otherwise an actual malicious person could get by with a halfway decent fake ID.