The Secretary of Homeland Security knows as little about the people cleaning his house as he does about those people suing him.
Every few weeks for nearly four years, the Secret Service screened the IDs of employees for a Maryland cleaning company before they entered the house of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the nation’s top immigration official.
The company’s owner says the workers sailed through the checks — although some of them turned out to be illegal immigrants.
Now, owner James D. Reid finds himself in a predicament that he considers especially confounding. In October, he was fined $22,880 after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators said he failed to check identification and work documents and fill out required I-9 verification forms for employees, five of whom he said were part of crews sent to Chertoff’s home and whom ICE told him to fire because they were undocumented.
Chertoff declined to comment. “We’re very constrained in what we can say about anybody who has any kind of issue with the department,” he said.
Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said that in this type of investigation, ICE focuses on the employers, not where employees are dispatched. He said that contractors have the responsibility of ensuring that their workers are legal, and that the Chertoffs were assured by Reid that workers sent to their home were legal. Upon learning that Reid might have hired illegal immigrants, the Chertoffs fired him, and the secretary recused himself from the department’s subsequent enforcement actions, Knocke said.
I’d want to know as much as possible about people who come and go from my house. How about you?