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Milford Pledges To Combat Hiring Of Illegal Immigrants

MILFORD, Mass. — In Milford a year ago, tensions over illegal immigration peaked when a young motorcyclist was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver, here illegally from Ecuador.

Now the central Massachusetts town is the first community in New England to sign on to a federal program that’s designed to crack down on the hiring of illegal immigrants.

The IMAGE Program

At Gallo Moving and Storage in Milford, customers’ packed-up belongings are stacked floor to ceiling in a colossal warehouse. Workers use forklifts to move plastic-wrapped couches and massive wooden crates.

Owner Tony Gallo says he requires all of his employees and contractors to provide documents to show they’re in the U.S. legally — documents he then has an outside company verify. And he says at first, he didn’t like the thought of the federal government double-checking his due diligence.

“Everybody thinks it’s, ‘Oh yeah, government overreach, here we go again,’ ” Gallo said.

But after learning about a program run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to help prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants, Gallo says he plans to sign up.

“We want to keep a level playing field, so if somebody’s out there paying guys cash under the table, that’s hurting my business, because I can’t compete with that,” Gallo explained.

The program is known as IMAGE — ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers. Employers who take part receive training on the effects of illegal hiring. They also learn how to confirm the immigration status of prospective employees through tools such as the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify website. As well, participants agree to have their businesses audited to make sure their current employees are legal.

Milford itself, which employs more than 1,500 people, has become the first town or city in New England to sign on to the IMAGE program. That, even though you wouldn’t think the government would hire undocumented workers.

“Well we hope we don’t. We’ll find out,” said Brian Murray, the chairman of the Milford Board of Selectmen. According to Murray, immigrants here illegally put a strain on the town’s services, including police.

Reaction Differs In Milford

Last August, police say, an undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant hit and killed a 23-year-old motorcyclist while driving drunk. Murray says that victim was one of three people killed in Milford in recent years by illegal immigrants driving without a license.

And then, he says, the school system also faces challenges.

“I think just the culture and tradition changes don’t translate well when people simply jump on a plane or boat or whatever, come here, and then plop into the community,” Murray said. “So consequently I know the school department has to allocate resources and personnel to try to acclimate these people and provide them the services that they do need for their children.”

At Bill’s Pizza on Main Street, employee Joseph Ramalhete has sympathy for the immigrants. He thinks the government should help those already here get legal status quickly so they can work.

“It’s better than them stealing, robbing. They’re going to be here. They need to eat. They need to live, you know,” Ramalhete said.

Ramalhete came to the U.S. from Brazil as a child, with his parents. They came here legally, he says. And he agrees with the restaurant’s manager, Girgis Wasef, who was selected in an immigration lottery and came here from Egypt with his wife and kids five years ago. Wasef is now a U.S. citizen and says the legal way is the right way to do it.

“A lot of people, they have paper, they’re looking for work and can’t find it because too many illegal aliens, they’ve got their jobs,” Wasef said. “I’m not against them.”

The special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, Bruce Foucart, was on hand to sign the agreement with Milford town leaders Monday night. He says he hopes towns and business owners will wear their employment compliance like a badge of honor.

“Illegal immigrants have to buy documents to work, fraudulent documents,” Foucart explained. “And they’re criminal organizations that are selling that. They’re not vetting who they’re selling these documents to. They could be selling them to a public safety threat or a national security threat. And so when you have a legal and compliant workforce, you take away that threat.”

The Milford Area Chamber of Commerce is on board, and in fact first held a seminar to inform its members about the ICE program four years ago. Asked if the program might suggest the town and its business community are hostile to immigrants, the chamber’s president and CEO, Barry Feingold, says Milford is anything but. The town, he says, was built by immigrants.

“It really was with the Irish, people of Irish descent and Italian descent,” Feingold said. “And then you had the Portuguese, and now you have the Brazilian and and the Ecuadorian, and they’re very hard-working people. But if you’re here, and you know you’re here illegally, if you expect to get a job illegally, well that’s not the way it works.”

Back at Gallo Moving and Storage, Tony Gallo says he might feel some sympathy if he finds out one of his workers is illegal.

“If there’s a couple people out there sneaking through the cracks and we catch them, then we get them and we just tell them, ‘Hey, here’s the way it is, guys: Either go get yourself legal, and we’ll help you do it if we can, or, you know, I have to let you go,’ ” Gallo said.

Under the federal program, businesses found to have more than 50 percent illegal workers will face fines. And ICE says it will only prosecute or deport immigrants who are convicted criminals or wanted for crimes other than being illegal.

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  • randomhookup

    ‘Hey, here’s the way it is, guys: Either go get yourself legal, and
    we’ll help you do it if we can, or, you know, I have to let you go,’

    While I don’t want people to come to the US illegally, it’s not as simple as this person makes it sound to get “legal”.  The average, unskilled Latin American without family ties to US citizens has almost no way to gain legal entry to the US. I’m not sure what a worker could do that would suddenly make him legal (unless an immigration judge issues a Green Card to someone who has stayed in the US for a long time).

    Most Americans are unaware of the difficulty to gain legal entry to the US for the kind of folks who have come here illegally (and even for the educated to get here legally).

  • Hamilton

    ‘Hey, here’s the way it is, guys: Either go get yourself legal, and we’ll help you do it if we can, or, you know, I have to let you go,’ ” Gallo said.
    This is exactly the way it should be. We have laws for a reason. Why is it that some people feel they can pick and choose the laws they want to follow? It is so they can jump to the front of the line and cheat everyone! No matter how you look at it or what excuse you make up, it is wrong. What kind of society would we have if we let this continue? One made up of law breakers and cheaters! 
    The non-enforcement of immigration laws has reached its end and people are fed up with the laws not being enforce because it has a negative effect all around. This is just the beginning of the push to enforce our immigration laws. If MA starts enforcing, like in this case,  you know it has reached critical mass!

  • Leeleeputian

    Mr. Feingold:

    One of the  purposes of the 1924 Immigration Restriction Act was to keep out Italian and Jewish immigrants, like the ones who made their way to Milford to build it up.   They were “legal” immigrants until the wealthy and powerful got frightened that their numbers spelled trouble- whether it was the threat of strikes or the notion that the white race was in peril. Madison Grant’s “The Passing of the Great Race” was published just before the enactment of the Immigration Restriction laws in the early 1920s, and informed the debate in Congress.

    Individuals in Milford may not be hostile to immigrants for racial reasons, but our immigration system is hostile to immigrants because it promotes exploitation, and most Americans, whether they like it or not, are beneficiaries of that exploitation.  Some may say e-verify will eventually cure that problem, but there will be consequences to denying  people the ability to make a living.

    As for the tragic drunk driving incident. I don’t condone drunk driving, but illegal immigrants aren’t the only ones who drink and drive. I understand the concern and the anger, but the solutions aren’t so easy as people make them out to be.

  • saveourepublic

    Hard to discus anything any more …. moderation is killing free speech

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001742073940 Daniel Genseric

    “ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY!”

    Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

    The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

    Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

    What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

    How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

    And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

  • scuncic

    Well, this is good news.  Illegal aliens and obama are a blight on America.  Wish every state would do this.

  • Steve

    Great move! Now the rest of this hyper-liberal state needs to do the same. As you mention, Massachusetts urban public schools are also part of this illegal immigrant mess.
    Many of these schools are being destroyed- the children of illegal immigrants are pouring into these districts. More millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to accommodate these students. Go take your own school tour- Chelsea, Brockton, Lynn, Lawrence, Holyoke, Springfield, etc. Either we are going to be a nation with enforced laws or one that will be going down the tubes.

  • Sylvia Lydia Morelos

    I used to work for a company named SEATONCORP who hires labor legal and illegal and supplies it to comanie’s nationwide depending on what they request as clients/ I was not hiring illegal immigrants who literally came in with typed social security cards and laminated ids. It proved disastrous as the production floor for the company that requested these illegals manipulated the production floor and sent the employees that I did hire home early. I ended up “crashing” and not being able to put up with the politics. As a result, I was let go and told “this is not a corporation, under the right conditions you will thrive.” SInce then, 2000, I have not “thrived” as Ihave faced backlashleft and right. in 2004 I tried to work  for  another compnay and I experienced workplace mobbing because of what happened in 2000. Illegal immigration is a serious problem. I am worried that there is no alleviating it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Moakler/1538075402 Charles Moakler

    For every company in the United States that prides itself in hiring a legal workforce, or wants to use the public relations windfall of stating they hire only legal workers, there are a thousand that hire labor contractors that pay cash and are usually illegal aliens themselves. This is Bush/Obama enforcement at work. These two traitors to the American working man need to suffer the same historical fate. They will be persecuted in history as the two worst presidents in modern times.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Moakler/1538075402 Charles Moakler

    Congress is getting ready to debate another amnasty. They will have to couple immigration amnasty with tax amnasty because most illegals would owe hundreds of thousands of dollars if their tax cheating were exposed. Either they have worked here and not paid taxes or they have filed bogus returns for child credit on children that don’t exist. Either way they owe big time and their representatives want us to forgive their tax crime as trivial. Ask anyone who has been dogged by the IRS if these crimes are trivial.

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