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Employees of Monrovia military contractor out of work after reported ICE audit



File: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) badge on a uniform is viewed on March 5, 2014 at the preview of a temporary exhibition at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment spotlighting ICE's work and accomplishments in Washington, D.C.
File: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) badge on a uniform is viewed on March 5, 2014 at the preview of a temporary exhibition at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment spotlighting ICE's work and accomplishments in Washington, D.C.
Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images

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Employees of a Monrovia company that makes products for the U.S. military say they and more than 100 coworkers are out of jobs after a federal immigration audit.

Some said they’d spent years working for Vinyl Technology, Inc., a company whose website lists services such as vinyl and plastic heat sealing and industrial sewing for the medical, military and aerospace industries.

Raymundo, who said he was a supervisor, said he was recently asked by his employer to produce documents showing he could work legally — which he didn’t have.

"They gave us like 10 days to bring the papers to the company," said Raymundo, who said he'd worked there for 18 years. "If we don't have it, we're fired."

Raymundo said he and others were let go. He spoke while en route to collect his final paycheck.

Another employee, Marisela, estimated that more than 150 workers lost their jobs. A company employee reached by phone declined to comment.

ICE officials declined to confirm whether the company's employment records had been audited; they typically don’t comment unless criminal charges have been filed. But audits of military contractors are a priority, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Let's be honest, the employment of unauthorized workers at locations like this could post a threat to homeland security," Kice said, "and in the case of defense contractors, even endanger America's war fighters."

At the same time, immigration audits of employers have been on the downswing. In fiscal year 2013, ICE initiated almost 4,000 worksite enforcement cases nationwide; during most of fiscal year 2014, which ends Sept. 30, the agency has initiated fewer than 2,000. 

ICE inspections of 1-9 employment verification forms have dropped from a recent high of 3,127 in fiscal year 2013 to just over 1,100 for fiscal year 2014, as of Sept. 13. Worksite enforcement-related arrests are down as well.

Agency officials say battles over federal funding in Washington have taken a toll on resources.

Audits of military and other federal contractors became a priority for Homeland Security officials after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, with operations targeting companies that contracted with the government. Since 2009, the Obama administration has emphasized criminal prosecution of employers who break the law; however, Kice said, those whose audits turn up illegally-employed workers are given the chance to comply, avoiding fines and other punishment.