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EMPLOYMENT LAW 9/27/06

DHS announces SBINET contract awarded to Boeing, ICE arrest 122 undocumented workers near Buckley Air Force Base

With the US Senate invoking cloture to debate a bill that would build new fencing on the US-Mexico border, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on September 21, 2006, announced the award of a contract with the Boeing Company to implement SBInet along the United States northern and southern borders. The landmark SBInet program will provide DHS, and its agents and officers, with the best possible solution to detect, identify, classify, respond to and resolve illegal entry attempts at US land borders with Mexico and Canada.

Background. Announced last year by Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) is a comprehensive plan to control US borders and stem the flow of illegal immigration through an integrated mix of increased staffing, more robust interior enforcement, including worksite enforcement, greater investment in detection technology and infrastructure and enhanced coordination on federal, state, local and international levels.

A critical component of the SBI strategy is SBInet, a program focused on transforming border control through technology and infrastructure. SBInet will provide frontline personnel advantages in securing US land borders by fielding the a mix of current and next generation technology, infrastructure, staffing and response platforms. Specifically, SBInet will:

"SBInet will integrate the latest technology and infrastructure to interdict illegal immigration and stop threats attempting to cross borders," said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. "This strategic partnership allows the department to exploit private sector ingenuity and expertise to quickly secure our nation's borders."

The SBInet solution will be deployed using a homeland security threat-based approach. A model of the entire solution mix will be deployed at the Southwest border during the next eight months. Following this initial deployment, additional task orders will be issued focusing on the Southwest border first. Boeing's award of the SBInet acquisition was made through a full and open best value competition. The SBInet contract is an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) type contract with a performance period of three years, with a potential for three one-year long contract extensions. US Customs and Border Protection's (ICE) SBI Program Management Office serves as executive agent for the department's SBInet program leading, managing and working with Boeing to implement this comprehensive multi-year plan to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration.

ICE arrests. ICE special agents, in partnership with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), arrested 122 undocumented workers who were working for subcontractors responsible for building military family housing for Buckley Air Force Base. The undocumented workers, employed by Hunt Building Company LTD, were building multi-family housing units. Those arrested are citizens of the following countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. All are men ranging in age from 18 to 50 years old.

The arrests are part of ICE's critical infrastructure worksite enforcement operation. Under this program, ICE works closely with industries, such as airports, power plants, oil refineries and military bases to secure them from the risk of terrorist attacks posed by unauthorized workers employed in secure areas of our nation's critical infrastructure facilities. Further, knowingly hiring undocumented workers is a violation of immigration law. ICE aggressively pursues criminal charges against employers who egregiously violate theses laws. Already this fiscal year, ICE has arrested more than 400 individuals on criminal charges in worksite investigations and apprehended another 2,700 illegal workers on immigration violations. Aliens who re-enter the United States after having been deported face felony charges, and sentences up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

"ICE is aggressively pursing illegal aliens at the places where they work," said Jeffrey Copp, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Denver. "The area of critical infrastructure is especially important to local and national security. These facilities must know the people who have access their worksites." Copp oversees a four-state region, which includes: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. "We're attacking this critical infrastructure issue from all sides," said Copp. "In addition to our worksite enforcement operations, we've also established a task force of many local, state and federal agencies to address the fraudulent documents used to obtain access to these facilities."

For more information on this and other topics, consult CCH Employment Practices Guide or CCH Labor Relations.

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