Golfland, Big Surf to Host Job Fair for Seasonal Work -- Is Sheriff Investigation Part of Benefits Package?

With thousands out of work, Golfland Entertainment Centers will likely host a good-sized crowd at its Saturday job fair for seasonal workers.

But, to quote from a New Times headline this week, applicants better have their papers in order. If you'll recall, Golfland was the site of a safari-hunt for illegal immigrants last year by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. The company operates Big Surf, Waterworld, Golfland and other venues

After receiving a tip that someone at the company was knowingly hiring undocumented workers, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's crack anti-Mexican team sprang to action, launching an investigation that led to the arrests of nine employees for identity theft. As is typical for these "employer sanction" raids, no actual employers have been arrested or indicted, just the workers. The investigation showed that, as of last year, many more employees may have been undocumented. From the sheriff's office 2008 news release: 

According to the Sheriff, his detectives have already obtained personnel records from Golfland Entertainment which points to the real possibility that as many as 104 of the 198 employees listed as working there have potential discrepancies with social security numbers such as more than one name associated with those social security numbers.

We haven't heard of any other Golfland employees getting busted, so maybe the majority of employees have sought calmer waters. On the other hand, it seems possible that the sheriff's office has a watchful eye on the company -- and more busts will come.

The fun part about the sheriff's raids is that even if you're a legal worker, you still might be detained and treated like a criminal when deputies come back with another search warrant.

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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.