Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, April 02, 2007

Living and Losing at the American Dream - Jail Time and Immigration

A blog I haven't followed long, the New Jersey Employment Law Blog has a post about a West Coast sentencing of the owner and manager of Golden State Fence Co. following their plea bargain for knowingly hiring illegal aliens. See, Hiring Undocumented Workers: The Stakes Just Went Up for Business.

Quoting the sentencing judge:

Prosecution is long overdue in this area. Honestly, the government's efforts have been at the border, not with the employer. Obviously, the government has signaled a change with this case.

There's no question that pressure is rising in all parts of the country, and although it won't be just limited to them, I would wager that it is the small business that is most vulnerable.

It's ironic that Golden State Fence's website has this banner on the top: "Home of the American Dream" which I am pretty sure is what the illegal immigrants that were working for the company thought they were participating in. It's even more poignant when you read the company history:

Golden State Fence is a Family owned and operated business led by Founder Mel Kay, Jr., President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Born and raised in Southern California during the Great Depression, Mr. Kay came from a family of 11 children. A classic American Dream story, Mr. Kay spent his childhood working to help support the family and left high school early at his father's orders to work full time. Shortly after this his father's untimely premature death left Mr. Kay as the primary supporter of the family. He started his first business in 1965 on the ground that Golden State Fence sits today. Over the last 40 years Mr. Kay has employed thousands of Southern California residents and today Golden State Fence employs over 700 individuals at 8 locations throughout Southern California. Golden State Fence is widely recognized as California's leader in the Fence industry and is one of the Inland Empires leading businesses. Mr. Kay has always taken great pride in building Golden State Fence based on the principles of Integrity, Honesty and Hard Work.
Now I don't know anything about about the facts and this story from NPR makes it clear it was not just a one time problem.

However, it only emphasizes to me that there has to be a better way to deal with immigration than penalizing those who want to work, and usually it is hot, dirty work at that, and those who want to give them that chance.


We run a fence industry discussion webpage over at and have posted several articles on the Mel Kay and Golden State Fence Company in regard to the fines and even house arrest of CEO Mel Kay. Mel came on the board to defend his company and his own reputation but failed to deny or acknowledge the final rebuttal by the Fence Wizard. You can access all of the articles by following this link:

Or skip to the final article here:

I enjoy your website - it is an excellent resource, I am adding a link to your site today. Thank you.
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