FEDERALE: MIAMI HERALD’s Klas and Illegal Immigrant Editor Mena Shill For Slave Power’s Restaurant Subsidiary
08/21/2023
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If you want to know why we call the communist Main Stream Media the Lying Press, read the recent offering from the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas [Tweet her], who recently left her Capitol Hill beat to blunder into immigration with a tearful tale of a restaurant forced to fire illegal alien employees [Forced To Fire Undocumented Workers, Owner Of Landmark Florida Restaurant Seeks Change, by Mary Ellen Klas, August 14, 2023]

Klas’s tale erred on a major point of immigration law. And Klas, and apparently her editor, a one-time illegal immigrant called Alex Mena [Tweet him], have refused to publish a correction.

Klas offered us the story of a prominent Hispanic Republican restaurateur in Tampa, Richard Gonzmart, who owns multiple locations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—or as I call it, ICE SVU—found that he had numerous long-serving employees who were illegals. Gonzmart’s first response was defiance, but he later caved. Needless to say, ICE SVU arrested no one, but instead settled for a fine and terminations:

Richard Gonzmart, the fourth-generation owner of the iconic Columbia Restaurant chain based in Tampa, says it’s time for politicians to start listening on immigration. When federal immigration authorities arrived at his Sand Key restaurant in Clearwater in 2021 to find outdated and noncompliant work documents for 19 of his employees, he was forced to fire them all—including seven people who had worked with his family for decades. “With 2,000 employees, it becomes very difficult to monitor it,’’ Gonzmart said in an interview. “We think they’re legal but, when we had to check, we found seven people who have been with me 30 years—paying taxes, had children, grandchildren—and we were required to terminate them.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Tampa would not comment on the case, and Gonzmart said he was still negotiating a resolution to the conflict. But the incident underscores the double scrutiny many businesses face as a new state law layers new immigration enforcement policies to existing federal rules in a way that is exacerbating worker shortages.

Note that this enforcement action was unrelated to Florida’s law that requires employers to use E-Verify and ends access to driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. Florida’s reforms have little or no immediate effect and certainly do not authorize state enforcement of immigration laws. They do limit access to welfare and other services, though.

E-Verify is already open to law-abiding employers who want to make certain their workforce is legal. But clearly Gonzmart was uninterested in that, especially given that he challenged ICE SVU to arrest him:

“I told them I wouldn’t let them go and they threatened to arrest me,’’ he recalled. “I said, ‘That’s a good idea. Why don’t you all come and arrest me? But let me know when, so I can have cameras here!’ Then, they sent me a $500,000 fine, and I let them go.”

But Gonzmart’s insouciant challenge aside, Klas made an error that only a rookie reporter would make, likely because she knows as little about immigration law as, well, a rookie reporter.

“Under federal law,” she wrote, “ICE officials may obtain a warrant to inspect an employer’s documents either through E-Verify or I-9 forms, the documents used to determine an employee’s identity and eligibility to work.”

Wrong, wrong, and just plain wrong. ICE SVU can inspect an employer’s federal I-9s, which verify employment eligibility and must be retained by an employer, at any time, as long as the agency provides three days’ notice. The forms submitted by employers using E-Verify are DHS property. That information is used routinely for analysis and enforcement. No warrant is required unless ICE decides to seize the documents without the three-day notification

In Gonzmart’s case, ICE SVU audited employee records; we don’t know if the agency used its on-site inspection authority or E-Verify records. But the real question is why Klas raised the issue at all. My guess: to suggest that something illegal or improper happened when ICE SVU nailed Gonzmart.

I emailed Klas to point out the error and her failure to follow up Gonzmart’s contradictory and incriminating statements [My Missive To The Lügenpresse, Federal Fifth Columnist, August 18, 2023]. I also pointed out that Klas referenced “Covid-21.” (So far, there’s no such thing, we’re only up to Covid-19.)

The newspaper corrected the Covid-21 reference, but not the error about immigration law.

So Klas did what so many of her ilk often do: wave babies and talk about put-upon illegals. All the employees, she wants you to know, are long-term, well paid, treated like family, were sons and brothers, and even had children and grandchildren.

But then Klas, or Gonzmart, slipped. He clearly did know the employees were illegals because, as he told Klas:

the governor is putting in a law that says those who have an expired driver’s license cannot renew it because they’re no longer legal. They cannot work. Their papers are no longer legal.

Before last year, illegals could get Florida licenses as long as they could provide proper documentation and/or show they were in deportation proceedings, with a hearing date [‘License to live’: Florida quietly changed driver’s license requirements for immigrants, by Monique O. Madan, Miami Herald, May 18, 2022]. That was even after Florida implemented REAL ID in 2010.

But this year, Florida stopped giving licenses to illegals with out-of-state licenses [Governor Ron DeSantis Announces List of Invalid Out-of-State Driver Licenses Issued to Undocumented Immigrants, FlGov.com, July 5, 2023]. In other words, restaurateur Gonzmart was accepting licenses or identification not compliant with REAL ID for I-9 work eligibility. Or he was accepting formerly valid out-of-state licenses or identification. The problem: Now, thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis,  illegal-alien employees can’t renew Florida licenses.

Then we read Gonzmart’s next revelation. He ignored federal immigration law until Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that requires employers with more than 25 workers to use E-Verify:

Gonzmart said that many of his employees were hired at a time when the state didn’t require companies to obtain documents showing proof of eligibility to work. Under Florida’s new law, state and local law enforcement officials are authorized to enforce federal immigration laws and, even before the state law took effect on July 1, he said, “many people with papers did not renew them because of the concern that the government was sending them back.”

In other words, Gonzmart didn’t give a hang about work eligibility until Florida passed its law, which means he ignored the federal statute that requires proof of eligibility.

Hackette Klas let that one slip by with no comment, which is typical of the Leftist MSM in its conniving with the Slave Power to hide such facts about employers who hire illegals.

Then Klas offered the restaurant industry’s version of Big Ag’s “crops will rot in the fields” without illegal aliens mantra: Tourists won’t get fed!

Meanwhile, Gonzmart said the incident “almost put us out of business,’’ and while customer demand has rebounded from the pandemic, the inability to find enough new staff has forced him to suspend his catering services and reduce restaurant hours. …

Hotels are not opening all rooms because they don’t have enough housekeepers, restaurants that used to be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner are now open for just lunch and dinner, and existing staff puts in extra hours, she said. “Everybody’s having to get creative with their thinking.“

But raising pay and benefits to attract Americans (and legal immigrants) appears not to be part of this “creative” thinking.

However, at least we get a confession from another representative of the Slave Power, John Horne, right, board chairman of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association: Without illegals, we are doomed to starvation!

“We have people that have been in our state for 20-plus years, that are scared,’’ Horne began:

“They don’t know what to do because the emotion is ‘ICE is around the corner.’ Our state has just become toxic in that feeling of wanting to get rid of all the illegals.” Horne predicts that when the winter tourism and travel season begins and employers can’t find employees who can pass the E-Verify screening, “it could cause a huge problem.”

Another Association representative, president and CEO Carol Dover, [Email her] simply demands that we allow illegals to remain, work, and raise their families. But she wants indentured servitude!

“We need our immigrants to work,’’ Dover said. But the solution is not amnesty for them, rather a system that allows them to be here as temporary workers, without voting rights and citizenship status but an opportunity to obtain a driver’s license and a promise to stay three to five years. “They cannot have a criminal record,’’ she said. “But if they want to go to work, and help raise their family, they need to be able to do that, come out of hiding and pay taxes.”

Klas’s effort isn’t just shameless kowtowing to the Slave Power

It also demonstrates an alignment of interests. The Herald’s editor Alex Mena was an illegal immigrant (“a Nicaraguan child who came across the Rio Grande on his father’s shoulders”)  [Alex Mena named Miami Herald’s executive editor. ‘We have so much more to accomplish’, by Howard Cohen, Miami Herald, August 14, 2023] and Klas is clearly an Open Borders Leftist.

Perhaps Klas was ordered to write a sob story. Perhaps she and Mena both favor Amnesty and Open Borders.

Or perhaps the restaurant association should have skipped the Lying Press middleman and written the story itself.

The blogger Federale (Email him) is a 4th generation Californian and a veteran of federal law enforcement, including service in the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal law enforcement agencies.

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