Posted on April 12, 2005

Idaho Officials Weigh RICO Lawsuit over Illegal Workers

Rebecca Boone, Casper Star-Tribune (Wy.), Apr. 10

BOISE, Idaho — Canyon County commissioners are considering whether they can use a federal law designed to target organized crime to sue local businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

The commissioners, led by Robert Vasquez, agreed Friday to pay a Chicago lawyer $2,500 to look into the feasibility of a lawsuit based on that law.

“I know that there are companies hiring illegal aliens because they make applications for welfare and tell us where they are working,” Vasquez said. By going after companies under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, Vasquez hopes he can force companies to cover the county’s costs for things such as indigent medical care.

“The cost has to be measured against the outlay of tax dollars in all capacities. By that, I mean the county is currently expending $900,000 a year for illegal aliens in our county jail alone,” Vasquez said. “Ultimately a lawsuit could be a moneysaving move. If nothing else, it certainly enforces the law of the land, which I am bound by oath to do.”


“The county isn’t suing regarding wages. They’ve asked me to write a memo and tell them whether they have standing under RICO to recoup costs the county has incurred for illegal immigrants,” Foster said. “There are definitely limits — the law can only go so far. And the courts around the country have been pretty tough in saying who has standing and who does not.”

It’s not the first time Vasquez has taken controversial action against illegal immigration. He spearheaded the commission’s request earlier this year to have Gov. Dirk Kempthorne declare Canyon County a disaster area in anticipation of an “imminent invasion” of illegal immigrants. Kempthorne turned down that request.

At the time, the commission approved a resolution blaming illegal immigrants for increasing crime, spreading infectious diseases and causing fatal car accidents.

And last year, Vasquez tried to bill the Mexican government $2 million for reimbursement of jail and medical treatment costs he claimed the county provided to Mexican citizens. The effort failed.

Vasquez has formed an exploratory committee to look at a bid for the 1st District congressional seat. The incumbent, Rep. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, in December filed the required papers to begin a campaign for governor.