Mar. 21, 2005 – The nationâ€™s largest retail company will fund federal anti-immigration programs to the tune of $11 million as part of an unprecedented settlement reached Friday in a case charging Wal-Mart, Inc. and a dozen contract janitorial agencies with employing undocumented workers.
Wal-Mart maintains that it did not know the 345 custodians hired by the contracting companies â€“ reportedly more than half of whom the government has deported since capturing them in high-profile store raids in 2001 and 2003 â€“ were in fact undocumented immigrants. The twelve contracting firms will collectively pay $4 million in fines and plead guilty to immigration violations.
A senior US immigration official called the settlement "a milestone for corporate responsibility." But labor advocates trashed the fine â€“ which will take 21 minutes of Wal-Mart sales for the company to recuperate â€“ as too small to serve as a deterrent.
Immigrant rights advocates saw the development as a mixed blessing. "We're happy that Wal-Mart may finally be putting this shameful chapter to rest with the federal authorities and we expect them now to focus on the people who were shamefully exploited from around the world," lawyer James Linsey told the Associated Press. Linsey is representing affected former Wal-Mart workers in a separate civil claim over wage and civil rights violations.