Countywide

U.S. immigration authorities fined two San Diego-area companies a total of $6,500 Monday for allegedly violating the 1986 immigration law by hiring undocumented workers.

A $5,500 fine was levied against Moody's Lunch Service on Market Street in San Diego, and a $1,000 fine was imposed on National Sunroof & Freeway Five Auto Body & Paint on Wilson Avenue in National City.

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman said the fines came only after several unsuccessful efforts by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to get the two firms to obey the new law. Both employers have 30 days to appeal the fines.

The fines bring to 21 the number of area firms singled out for infractions of the statute, which provides for stiff fines and potential jail terms for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. The fines now total $74,700, the spokesman said.

An El Cajon water-bed manufacturer, Master Manufacturing, was the first San Diego area company to be fined. The INS levied a $6,000 fine on it in October.

San Diego is believed to lead the nation in such violations, mainly because of the many undocumented workers along the border and the presence of more than 700 Border Patrol agents, who make up the enforcement arm of the INS.

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