Foes Of Illegal Migrants Shame Employers Via Web

Jennifer Delson, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 8, 2007

Activists fighting illegal immigration are using a time-proven method—public shame—to target employers who may hire undocumented workers, angering some business owners and federal authorities.

Instead of just protesting at day labor sites, activists around the country are posting on a website photos of people hiring the workers and the names of their companies, if that can be determined.

The website, www.wehirealiens.com, which reports 1 million hits a month, lists 2,920 employers in 47 states, including nearly 700 in California.

Founder Jason Mrochek, a 32-year-old Riverside County software developer, said the website was developed in 2005 because he and other activists were frustrated by the lack of action by the federal government in stemming illegal immigration. Mrochek’s idea is to bring unwanted attention to those who hire illegal immigrants. For instance, he and others spent a recent Saturday in Capistrano Beach, snapping photos of anyone who tried to hire dayworkers congregating on Doheny Park Road.

Robin Hvidston, an Upland-based activist, said many employers looking for day laborers leave the worker sites when told they will be photographed.

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Mrochek said there was a “vetting” process that allows only postings with “reasonable suspicion” of wrongdoing.

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The report on the website reads: “Day laborers quickly rushed the vehicle. Several got into the vehicle. We informed the driver and the man in the front passenger seat that we would be reporting what we observed to http://www.wehirealiens.com.”

But no evidence that the workers were illegal or that Amato hired them was presented.

“How do they know who I was picking up?” said Amato, who continues to use day laborers. “I think it’s wrong what they did, making accusations with no true grounds. I don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong.”

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Mrochek said he would remove information from the website if an employer called and proved the allegations wrong.

Republic Services, a trash collection company in Clark County, Nev., is listed on the site, which president Bob Coyle said was “very frustrating” because he participates in a federal program to check employees’ immigration status.

Coyle said he believed a disgruntled employee made a post that says “almost all if not all the workers are working with false documents.”

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Mrochek said he knew that officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI looked at the site, “although they do not credit us for the work we do.”

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ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said she could not say whether anyone from her agency ever looks at the tips.

Haley’s agency maintains a hotline, (866) DHS-2ICE, to accept information from the public.

The agency would “like the tips on our telephone hotline, so as law enforcement agents we can evaluate it,” she said.

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