Posted on August 6, 2008

Eliminating the Illegal Alien Magnet

Tom Fitton, Front Page Magazine, August 6, 2008

My organization, Judicial Watch, has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit filed by Canyon County, Idaho, against four large employers of illegal aliens (Canyon County v. Syngenta Seeds, Inc., et al.). Canyon County alleges that during their employment, some of these illegal aliens committed crimes, thereby costing the county millions of dollars for criminal justice services as well as health and welfare services.

The district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Canyon County’s lawsuit, prompting Judicial Watch’s Supreme Court petition. Judicial Watch filed the petition for Canyon County with co-counsel Howard W. Foster, a renowned RICO expert with the Chicago law firm, Johnson & Bell, LTD.

For those of you unfamiliar with RICO, it is a federal law passed in 1970 that was originally used to destroy organized crime in America, specifically the Mafia. Since that time, however, the use of RICO has expanded to include a variety of circumstances. In fact, in 1996, Congress amended RICO to include certain immigration offenses.

With respect to this specific lawsuit, there are two central questions that arise from the appellate court ruling. First, does the term “business or property” as described in the RICO statute apply to the cost of services provided by a government entity or just to commercial activity? And, secondly, can a court simply dismiss a lawsuit based on a lack of injury directly resulting from the RICO activity, without first determining if any direct injury had been caused?


RICO is a tool that can be used to fight illegal immigration, and businesses that hire illegal aliens could therefore be subject to RICO lawsuits. The lower courts in this case have ignored the plain language of the RICO statute, but we hope the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to affirm the rule of law.