$16,750 Fine for Firm With Illegal Workers

Immigration authorities notified a Chula Vista garment manufacturer Monday that they plan to fine the company $16,750 for knowingly hiring illegal aliens.

The fine is the highest sought anywhere in the country under the year-old Immigration Reform Act, according to officials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The law makes it a crime to hire undocumented workers.

The company, Pearl of California, has been under investigation since May, when INS investigators found nine undocumented workers at the company’s offices, 635 Oxford St., said Arnoldo Flores, assistant director of the INS’ San Diego district.

All nine returned voluntarily to Mexico, he said. However, four of the nine were discovered among 11 undocumented workers arrested at the company’s offices during an INS visit Nov. 18, he said. Again, all were returned to Mexico.


A man who answered the company’s phone Monday said the owners were not there and were unavailable for comment.

Harold Ezell, INS Western regional commissioner, said Monday that the company had been given “ample warning” about the new law, but had ignored repeated efforts by INS officials, who tried to get the firm to comply voluntarily. Under the new law, the INS has sought fines from eight employers in the Western region, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii, Ezell said.