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- 07-28-2012, 01:27 PM #1
ICE audit closes 8 Sushi Zushi restaurants
ICE audit closes Sushi Zushi restaurants
By Jason Buch
Updated 11:32 p.m., Friday, July 27, 2012
Sushi Zushi, the popular San Antonio-based restaurant chain with locations across the state, temporarily shut its doors after an immigration audit, a spokesman said Friday.
The eight restaurants, four in San Antonio, two in Austin and two in Dallas, closed Friday as the company deals with what is known as an I-9 audit. In such audits, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can fine companies for not proving employees are eligible to work in the United States.
“Several vital employees have chosen not to report to work,” the company announced in a prepared statement. “This has affected our ability to provide our expected level of service to guests.”
Judy McCarter, a spokeswoman for the company, said she didn't know when the company received the audit results, how many employees were impacted or when the restaurants will reopen. More information should be available next week, she said.
“We wish to be clear — there was no raid by the government on our operations,” the statement read. “Nor has any employee been detained by the government or terminated by the company. Sushi Zushi is responding to a routine I-9 audit.”
Sushi Zushi CEO Alfonso Tomita, who was arriving from a trip overseas as the restaurants shuttered, is himself an immigrant. A Mexico City native and the son of a Japanese immigrant to that country, Tomita opened Sushi Zushi in 2001, according to Express-News archives. It has since become a statewide chain, and Tomita a well-known member of the San Antonio business community.
He said Friday that he learned about the closings as he stepped off a plane and could not offer any more information on the situation.
Under the Obama administration, ICE has moved away from highly publicized worksite raids and instead focused on I-9 audits. The agency argues that by forcing companies to fire employees who are in the country illegally, they take away the job opportunities that draw many people to the U.S.
“The increased emphasis on inspections of employers' I-9 documents are part of the ICE ... revised worksite enforcement strategy, launched in 2009, to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce, by focusing additional resources on the auditing of employer's I-9s,” the agency said in a news release earlier this year.
“Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States,” the statement continued. “This form requires employers to review and record the individual's identity and employment eligibility documents and determine whether the documents reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual.”
The strategy has faced criticism from Republicans who say it allows illegal immigrants to stay in the country.
In February 2011, Lone Star Bakery Inc. in China Grove fired 200 employees after an I-9 audit. At the time, a company attorney said the bakery didn't have to slow down operations, and over two weeks was able to legally hire enough employees to stay open.
A Hearst Newspapers analysis earlier this year of 117 fines issued by ICE found that half the time the agency didn't prove that employers hired illegal immigrants, only that they hadn't kept proper paperwork.
ICE audit closes Sushi Zushi restaurants - San Antonio Express-NewsNO AMNESTY
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP
- 07-28-2012, 05:12 PM #2“Several vital employees have chosen not to report to work,”
- 08-01-2012, 11:29 PM #3
Restaurant chain CEO says reopening weeks away
Sushi Zushi closes following ICE audit
Author: Paul Venema, Reporter
Published On: Jul 31 2012 03:28:43 PM CDT Updated On: Aug 01 2012 01:26:22 AM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -
The founder and CEO of a popular chain of sushi restaurants in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas was forced to close the chain of restaurants temporarily last week after an immigration audit.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted an I-9 audit, in which companies are required to prove that their employees are eligible to work in the United States.
When the audit was announced, a group of employees chose not to show up for work, according to Alfonso Tomita, the company's CEO.
"We complied with what we needed to comply with, so I think we haven’t done anything wrong,” Tomita said.
He said that he hopes to re-open some of the restaurants within two weeks and said he has been actively recruiting new employees.
“We have expenses that we need to cover,” Tomita said. “Our vendors, landlords and bankers have been very supportive.”
Though worried about the chain’s bottom line, Tomita said he is also concerned for the employees who did show up but cannot work because there is not a large enough staff to keep the restaurants running.
“It’s the livelihood of 500 families that depend on us and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
Restaurant chain CEO says reopening weeks away | News - HomeWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.