Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Deputies arrest 10 in employer-sanctions raid on Phoenix company

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies arrested 10 people during an employer-sanctions raid at Prisma Graphic in South Phoenix Tuesday morning.

Deputies converged on the business at 29th Street and Broadway Road at about 7 a.m.

Prisma Graphic employs more than 130 people, according to information on its website. Deputies were looking for 17 people. Ten were arrested -- six during the raid, four later. According to the company president, Simon Beltran, the remaining people have not worked there for about a year.
Beltran said he and his early team leaders were stunned to find deputies surrounding the company's two buildings when they arrived at work, but did everything they could to cooperate.

MCSO reportedly received two separate tips that some of the company's employees are undocumented immigrants who used false or stolen identification to get their jobs. One of those tips specifically mentioned an employee using the Social Security Number of a 14-year-old girl.

According to information provided by one of the tipsters, some of those employees were seen printing out Wells Fargo credit-card information, government hunting tags and Health Net information. MCSO investigators did not find any evidence during the during the operation at Prisma Graphic to corroborate that.

The sheriff said his deputies had developed information about 17 specific people before they ever step foot inside Prisma Graphic.

"We don't racial profile," Arpaio said. "We already know when we come in here who we're going to arrest."

According to MCSO, two of the suspects tried to run but were caught by deputies stationed at the back door.

Arpaio said investigators will keep looking for those other suspects who are no longer employed by Prisma Graphic. He said it's only a matter of time before deputies track them down and take them into custody.

Prisma Graphic CEO Robert Anderson said Wednesday that the six people who were detained on company property were hired prior to 2008, which is when the Legal Arizona Workers Act went into effect, requiring employers to participate in E-Verify. Under the Legal Arizona Workers Act, employers did not have to use E-Verify to substantiate the legal status of people who were already on the payroll.

According to Anderson, the company did its best to verify the immigration status of new employees at the time, requiring them to fill out an employment application, Form I-9 (Employee Eligibility Verification) and provide proper documentation.

Arpaio and his deputies have conducted 54 similar raids in the past few years, the most recent being at C&M Homes, a Mesa construction company, in early October.

"They don't seem to care, these businesses that keep hiring illegal aliens with false ID," Arpaio said at the time. I'm going to keep cracking down. ... I think they should do more, be more vigilant."
Identity theft is a Class 4 felony.

Prisma Graphic opened as a boutique printing shop in Phoenix more than 30 years ago. According to the company's website, the privately-held business had just 30 employees and $1 million in sales in 2000. It has since grown and is now headquartered in an 82,000-square-foot facility, has more than quadrupled its staff and posts $24 million in annual sales.

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