Whistleblower: Feds hire illegal alien workers

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Wednesday, November 15, 2000 Whistleblower: Feds hire illegal alien workers

More KIRO 7 Investigations Chris Halsne KIRO 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS INVESTIGATOR A former law enforcement agent has blown the whistle on federal agencies routinely hiring illegal alien workers, with no fear of getting caught.

These are serious, but all too true allegations that the federal government is acting above the law.

Our exclusive four-month KIRO Team 7 Investigation finds the US Forest Service often uses illegal immigrant laborers for projects on federal lands.

And to make matters worse, the Immigration Service is aware of it -- and doing nothing to stop it.

"The problem with immigration is, every year, it's gotten worse," says Gene Davis.

Davis just retired after spending 30 years with the INS Border Patrol. He spent countless nights chasing down illegal immigrants. Now, after decades of silence, he wants to talk and tell the world that one of the most flagrant violators of immigration laws is the federal government itself.

Davis says, for example, the US Forest Service right here in Washington routinely allows illegal laborers to cut and plant trees. "For me, it was very frustrating. It's just every year it got worse, just got worse!" he said.

Perhaps even more disturbing, Davis claims INS stopped doing interior raids on federally owned lands in 1998.

We confirmed that with current border patrol agents.

So, for at least 2 years, nobody has been checking on the legality of work crews.

"There's no enforcement. There is nobody that really seems to care that all of these jobs with illegal aliens are being done on national forests," he said.

We trekked deep into the heart of the Gifford Pinochet Forest to check out Davis's story.

At the base of Mount St. Helens, we found Mexican Nationals whacking down acres of cedars with chainsaws.

They are here at the invitation of the US Forest Service, hand-picked based solely on their ability to work cheaply in the roughest of terrain.

Verifying their green cards is never part of the deal. Mike Wolfe oversees US Forest Service contracts in Washington and Oregon. It's his job to hire legal workers.

Halsne: "Are you hiring illegal alien workers ... paying them with federal tax money?"

"If that contractor is hiring illegals and we're paying the contractor, I suppose you could say 'yes, we're hiring illegal aliens.' But we certainly aren't doing it knowingly," said Wolfe.

The Forest Service can't claim total ignorance.

Hidden camera videotape shows a Forest Service agent checking on a cutting crew.

We found some very questionable workers right under his nose by simply talking to cutters in the woods.

The Forest Service apparently would rather come up with excuses.

"If you go out there, they have the most beautiful identification. Just like you and I would have," Wolfe said.

Halsne: "But a lot of it's fake!"

"I would assume so," Wolfe said.

Juan Sanchez illegally entered Washington 17 years ago.

Now as a legal cutter and planter, he says government sub-contractors are hiring undocumented workers at a record pace right now, mostly due to no fear of getting caught.

Halsne: "Is it still going on?"

"Oh yah, still going on," Sanchez says.

Halsne: "How prevalent is it?"

"A lot," Sanchez says.

"From 30 years experience, if they don't know, they probably shouldn't be in their jobs," says private contractor Keith Lawson.

Legitimate private deforestation contractors, like Keith Lawson of Stratta Industries, say it's impossible to under-bid renegade outfits, so illegal crews win all the federal contracts. He says the US Forest Service and INS are both sticking their heads in the sand.

"There's a lot of, i guess you'd say, Chris, 'looking the other way'," he said.

But whistleblower, Gene Davis says it's more than that.

"Once they get across that border, they're home free!" Davis said.

He believes all the enforcement in the world won't stop immigrants from coming here, if agencies like the US Forest Service keep enticing them with jobs.

"One of these days the problems we're having with illegal immigrants will come home to haunt us. One of these days, they'll be a day of reckoning," Davis said.

Current Border Patrol administrators tell me they would love to bust illegal crews.

But INS bosses at the regional level have said no.

Industry experts agree that some 70 percent of reforestation laborers working on federal lands right now are illegals.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), November 17, 2000


This is a major problem for everyone. This forces down wages for people who are here legally and citzens, especially minority groups. The workers are subject to exploition and abuse. Furthermore, no taxes are collected even though our public services are used. The only ones who really benefit from this are the businesses who use this illegal, slave labor. It doesn't help the taxpayer. It's just more corporate welfare.

Clinton is now actively trying force another illegal immigrant amnisty down our throats by blackmailing Congress with a shutdown fo the government. If this goes thru, expect even more people to come here illegally. Clinton's INS has down nothing to stop this deluge, so millions will become legal overnight. This will encourage more people to come here illegally and wait for the next amnesty.

Please contact your Congressional representatives a.s.a.p. and tell them to fight this amnesty!

-- K. (infosurf@yahoo.com), November 18, 2000.

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