Lax border security makes illegal immigrants more vulnerable to unscrupulous employers.
Although California is a so-called “sanctuary state,” the recent sentencing of a construction company owner who lured illegal immigrants into California then enslaved them and put them into (unpaid) forced labor is another example why tighter border security is needed.
A federal judge sentenced construction company owner Job Torres Hernandez to eight years and seven months in prison for harboring undocumented workers for commercial advantage or private financial gain and for forcing some of those individuals into providing labor on projects in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Torres, who was convicted in March, must also pay $919,738 in unpaid wages as restitution and must serve three years under supervised release after his prison term ends.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the Torres case is worker testimony that, since 2015, he recruited undocumented individuals from Mexico with the promise of construction jobs only to make some work as long as 24 consecutive hours without pay. He locked them up after hours in squalid living spaces with makeshift beds and limited access to toilets and showers. If they complained, witnesses told the court, Torres threatened deportation and physical harm to them and their families in Mexico.
It is highly doubtful that Torres’ case is the only case where an unscrupulous employer lures immigrants into the U.S. to work illegally—perhaps, even, forcing them into unpaid labor.
That Torres was caught and convicted is an exception to the rule. However, it also makes the need for tightening border security at the U.S. southern border all the more apparent.