Saturday, January 13, 2007

WeHireAliens being called "virtual vigilantism"

Found this web site and here is what they had to say. I doubt they will allow you to comment negatively as the comments are moderated so feel free to comment to Daniel Gonzalez here at my blog! Oh and by the way Daniel - yes we ARE focusing our efforts on employers of illegal aliens and you CAN'T STOP US. Keep on trying to tie our hands and see what happens...

Web site targeting employers of migrants

Immigration officials, business owners call list of those suspected of hiring illegal workers 'virtual vigilantism'

January 11, 2007
By Daniel González

A popular Web site that allows people to anonymously accuse employers of hiring illegal workers has managed to irk business owners, raise the ire of immigration authorities and show that anti-illegal immigration forces are focusing their efforts on employers.

Wehirealiens.com is operated by a citizens group that says it's trying to fight illegal immigration by publicizing suspected employers of illegal immigrants on its site and reporting them to federal authorities. Critics, however, contend the site is part of a troubling movement by anti-illegal immigration groups to out businesses and individuals on the Internet.

It is among several sites that attempt to embarrass employers, but what makes the site so popular is what makes it controversial: Wehirealiens.com doesn't check or confirm accusations from contributors before posting or sending information to authorities.

More than 2,700 businesses, including 200 in Arizona, are currently listed on the site's list of "illegal employers."

The Web site is not supported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but the agency has used some information supplied by the site. Business and immigrant advocates say the site amounts to vigilantism, and legal experts say the site is on shaky legal grounds.

None of that fazes Jason Mrochek, the Web site's operator.

Mrochek claimed credit when federal immigration agents on Dec. 12 raided meatpacking plants in six states and rounded up more than 1,200 undocumented workers employed by Greeley, Colo.-based Swift & Co. The meatpacker, Mrochek said, is one of several companies raided recently that first appeared on the Web site's list of "suspected illegal employers."

"We're glad that ICE is investigating and raiding some of these companies, and we hope it continues," said the co-founder and director of FIRE Coalition, an anti-illegal immigration group.

Born out of frustration
Mrochek, 32, based in Riverside County in California, said the site was launched in February 2005 out of frustration with the federal government's lack of worksite enforcement. Its goal is to pressure employers to stop hiring undocumented workers and, therefore, reduce a main incentive of illegal immigration. The site, funded by donations, now averages 750,000 to 1 million hits a month, Mrochek said.

It is the largest and most popular of several Web sites that have popped up in the past two years that target employers.

Others, such as daylaborers .org and illegalemployers.org, are less sophisticated. Anyone can visit and anonymously submit written information and photos to wehirealiens.com accusing a business of hiring illegal workers.

Mrochek reviews the information. If he deems the accusations add up to what he calls "reasonable suspicion," he posts the company on a list of businesses to boycott and then forwards the information to ICE, the FBI and the Social Security Administration.

Mrochek said he makes no effort to verify any submitted information, or notify companies, before posting accusations on his Web site.

He said, however, that he rejects about 50 percent of the claims, usually because the information is too vague. Mrochek said several businesses have threatened to sue him after their companies were posted on the site. But none has so far.

'Virtual vigilantism'
The site has raised a number of concerns. One is that disgruntled employees or competitors could use the site to tarnish the reputation of law-abiding businesses. Another is that assumptions about an employee's legal status based on race or ethnicity could lead to false accusations.

"The virtual vigilantism of this Web site encourages anonymous informants and the trafficking of whispered innuendo. That is not characteristic of a free society that values due process and the right to confront your accuser," said Farrell Quinlan, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman.

Indeed, some of the "evidence" that lands businesses on the Web site seems racially tinged, or stems from second- and thirdhand sources. Phoenix employment lawyer Neil Alexander said the Web site could be considered slanderous.

"If you accuse somebody publicly of engaging in criminal activity, you can potentially be liable for defamation or libel," Alexander said.

What's more, undocumented immigrants often use fraudulent documents that appear real, so employers don't always know if a worker is actually in the country illegally, experts say.

Caroline Espinosa, spokeswoman for NumbersUSA, a national organization that advocates reductions in immigration, said wehirealiens.com and similar sites illustrate the public's frustration with the federal government's unwillingness to vigorously enforce employer sanctions.

Outraged at accusations
In November, someone who claimed to be a former employee of Glendale Welding Co. accused the steel tank manufacturer of hiring "illegals a day after they crossed the desert."

Owner Bob Carlson was outraged when he found out his company was on the site.

"It's totally made up," Carlson said.

The accusation also angered Glendale resident Robert Juarez, 55, a 23-year veteran of the company. Juarez, who is Hispanic, was born in Texas. He said he resents when people assume Latinos are undocumented immigrants.

"I'm Hispanic, but I am not an illegal," Juarez said.

The company employees 22 welders, Carlson said. Half are Hispanic, but all but three were born in the U.S. Those born in Mexico have work visas, Carlson said. "It's like witch hunting," he said.

Despite criticism like that, Mrochek is looking for ways to attack employers even more aggressively on wehirealiens .com. One option he is considering is forwarding tips about suspected illegal employers to the IRS, in addition to ICE. Another is linking up with a Web site that launches organized boycotts.

"If we are being effective, that is the real mission," he said.

The Internet and immigration
Federal officials are wary of Web sites such as www.wehirealiens.com that target employers. Posting the names of suspected "illegal employers" could jeopardize investigations, said Lauren Mack, ICE spokeswoman for Arizona. The agency does, however, occasionally get leads from the site. Federal agents recently raided several companies previously listed on the site. Mack said the agency prefers that people report suspicious activity to its own tip line, 1-866-347-2423.

Sites by anti-illegal immigration groups targeting employers include:

• Wehirealiens.com. Allows people to anonymously report employers suspected of hiring illegal workers. Includes a searchable database of nearly 3,000 suspected "illegal employers."

• Illegalemployers.org. Helps companies sue competitors who have gained an unfair advantage by hiring undocumented workers.

• Daylaborers.org. Discourages the practice of hiring day laborers by posting photos of businesses and individuals at day-labor sites.

Source: The Arizona Republic

Comments:
OOh thanks Daniel.. I didn't know about daylaborers.org!
 
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