Arizona Woman Gets Prison Sentence for Hiring Illegal Immigrants

The office manager of a Sierra Vista drywall firm was sentenced to jail today for hiring illegal immigrants in the case of the first worksite enforcement bust in Arizona by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to this news release by the U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona, 44-year-old Carol Hill of Sun Drywall and Stucco must serve two months in prison, followed by one year of house arrest and 36 months of supervised release.

That's a pretty stiff sentence for doing something that thousands of other Arizonans have done in recent years: Hire illegal immigrants.

But Hill and the seven other defendants in the case got swept up in the national anti-illegal-immigrant fervor that compelled ICE to look more closely at employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers. The bust at Sun Drywall, as part of a larger ICE worksite enforcement effort in the spring of 2007, made headlines across the country. Another Sun employee, manager Edward Durgin, received a sentence of probation over the summer after he pleaded guilty. The company's president, Ivan Hardt, awaits trial.

ICE efforts targeting employers continued through this summer, which only seems fair considering all the illegal immigrants being deported these days. If undocumented workers themselves are a problem, it stands to reason the people who hire them are the root cause of that problem -- and should face consequences.

Some worksite enforcement has occurred locally due to the state's employer sanctions law. But that has resulted only in the jailing of Hispanic employees, not their bosses. In fact, the state's law doesn't mandate jail time for employers in violation.

The punishment for Hill and Sun Drywall, however, will undoubtedly instill more fear in employers who hire illegal immigrants. -- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern