California Restaurant Owner Caught Hiring Aliens, Fined; Now Uses E-Verify

Published on December 30th, 2011

Mandatory E-Verify would deter illegal immigration and keep aliens out of the jobs that Americans would willingly do. What would be even better is if the E-Verify program were supplemented with strong financial penalties and jail time for employers who knowingly hire aliens.

Good news! California district judge Thomas Whelan fined Michel Malecot $400,000 and five years of probation for hiring aliens. Prosecutors had sought $650,000 and prison time. Malecot is a naturalized citizen born in France and owns The French Gourmet, a prominent San Diego restaurant. (See it here). [California Shop Owner Fined $400,000 for Hiring Undocumented, Fox News Latino, December 26, 2011]

Although major corporations like Mohawk Industries, Agriprocessors and Zirkle have received fines ranging up to $18 million for their blatant pattern of hiring illegal immigrants, smaller businesses like restaurants are often spared mainly because of the difficulty prosecutors have in proving that employers knowingly employed aliens.

According to court records, Malecot hired 91 aliens since he opened his bistro on Pacific Beach several years ago. Rebecca Kanter, an assistant U.S. attorney, rejected the suggestion that Malecot acted out of “compassion” for the aliens.

Malecot’s lawyer, Eugene Iredale, claimed that the proprietor could not “pull the trigger to fire someone” after he learned his employees immigration status. Iredale also introduced a curious reason why the judge should dismiss the charges against Malecot. Apparently the French-born naturalized United States citizen is a big John Wayne fan!

Kanter’s argument that Malecot profited from the reduced wages he paid to aliens was more persuasive to the judge.

The French Bistro has signed up for E-Verify to avoid future uncertainties about its employees’ legal authorization to work in the United States. Certainly, many unemployed Californians would be eager to work at the French Bistro where the beach side working condition and tips are probably pretty good. Read the menu here.

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