Hundreds of workers at an apple packaging company in central Washington face being laid off following a federal immigration audit. On May 9th Crunch Pak notified its employees that they would have to provide documents to prove they have the legal right to work in the United States after an audit by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement showed discrepancies in its payroll.
Amy Philpott, a spokeswoman for the company, confirmed the audit but did not comment on how many employees might be affected. The audit started in August last year and those workers under review will receive notification in June. Vicky Castro from East Wenatchee claims that up to 90% of her co-workers have received notifications.
Crunch Pak packages apple slices and employs around 900 people in Cashmere. Lay-offs could begin as early as next Monday. “What the company wants is for every employee to have the chance to correct their information or amend their paperwork,” says Philpott. With an I-9 audit employees have ten days to correct any discrepancies. Those employees affected received their Friday pay checks attached to both a notification letter and an immigration form, which can be used to correct any errors in their records.
The Obama administration has seen such audits rise into the thousands, with the audits promoted by ICE to deter firms from hiring undocumented immigrants. Immigrant advocates say that such tactics have caused mass lay-offs, disrupted businesses and pushed workers further underground.