Illegal Workers Say Company Knew Of Fake Documents

They used fake documents to get their jobs, and they say the company they worked for, Benchmark Manufacturing knew it. Wednesday night, we told you about 22 illegal immigrants that were fired from that company after attending Monday's immigration rally. After the story aired, many of you wrote us e-mails, wanting to know specifically what the laws are regarding employment.  KLTV 7 found out.

"You're not required to be a document examiner, but if you find out that somebody has shown you a phony card, then you fall over into another category and you're subject to sanctions, civil fines in the event that you do employ illegals," said immigration attorney Don Patterson. Patterson says employers are not liable for verifying the authenticity of documents they're provided with, but could face penalties if caught.

That's what Maria Rodriguez is accusing her employer of Benchmark Manufacturing in Lindale. She say the company asked for her social security card and a form of ID when she applied for a job, but she gave them false documents and they knew it. "Most of the Mexicans who are there don't have a social security card, not even the supervisor," said Rodriguez, who had worked for Benchmark Manufacturing for four years.

Maria says, at one point, Benchmark was approached about the fake IDs. "From the social security office, they found out and they sent them a letter saying that our cards were no good," said Rodriguez. Patterson says it's tricky to separate the real documents from the take ones. "All they have to do is look at them and if they look proper, that's all they have to do. They don't have to be a document examiner. They don't have to go and run some kind of test," said Patterson.

He says, if a company is caught, the rules are minimally enforced. Patterson says, even though the documents were fake, the government takes taxes out of the paychecks of illegal immigrants. KLTV 7 News contacted Benchmark Manufacturing for comment, but those we spoke with declined.

Oralia Ortega reporting,