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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    INS looking into Henley Bridge contractor Britton Bridge

    INS looking into Henley Bridge contractor Britton Bridge's hiring practices

    By News Sentinel staff
    Posted June 13, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.

    KNOXVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division on a review of Britton Bridge LLC's hiring practices.

    Britton Bridge is reconstructing the Henley Bridge downtown. Two workers have died since the project began in January, including one worker who relatives say was an undocumented native of Mexico.

    The federal agency is taking the lead in the investigation, according to state documents.

    On May 24, Solin Estrada-Jiminez was killed on the job by a piece of falling concrete.

    On Jan. 25, John Womac, 33, was fatally injured when he was struck in the head by a bucket and arm of a track hoe.

    ICE is the main investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It was created by merging elements of two agencies, the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    All TDOT is empowered to do regarding illegal immigrant workers is to require companies getting state contracts to sign a pledge that they will not hire them.

    "If they don't sign, they won't get the contract, but we can't investigate, as we don't have an investigative arm," Botts said.

    So TDOT called on the state Labor Department to intervene. That department now is working with federal authorities.

    More details as they develop online and in Tuesday's News Sentinel.

    http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/jun/1 ... practices/
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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Immigration and Customs leading review of Henley Bridge contractor
    By Jim Balloch

    Posted June 14, 2011 at midnight

    An illegal immigrant worker had a role in the first fatal accident this year on the Henley Bridge reconstruction project, the victim in a second fatal accident may have been here illegally, and a federal investigation is under way to determine if contractor Britton Bridge LLC knowingly hired illegal immigrants, according to state documents.

    The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is working with the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, but the federal agency "will take the lead investigation in this matter," state Labor Commissioner Karla Davis said in a June 10 memo. "They have subpoenaed the work records of Britton Bridge," she added in the memo to Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer.

    Britton Bridge spokesman John Van Mol said the company has a policy of hiring only U.S. citizens or immigrants who have proper work documentation, but may have been duped by quality bogus documents.

    He said the firm has voluntarily suspended bidding on any new projects until it can enter a more effective employment eligibility verification system.

    There is some evidence that Solin Estrada-Jiminez, who was killed May 24, "might have been an unauthorized worker and/or illegal immigrant," the memo states. He was killed by a piece of falling concrete.

    Estrada-Jimenez's brother told the News Sentinel in a phone interview after he died that the 47-year-old was in the country illegally.

    Van Mol said that the man subsequently identified as Estrada-Jiminez was hired under the name Rodolfo Bustillos.

    "The credentials and papers he presented appeared to be legitimate and in order, and that is the basis on which he was hired," Van Mol said.

    On Jan. 25, John Womac, 33, was fatally injured when he was struck in the head by a bucket and arm of a track hoe. An investigation determined that the man operating the track hoe "was an unauthorized worker and/or illegal immigrant" and was subsequently arrested by DHS-ICE, Davis wrote in her memo to Schroer.

    ICE is the main investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It was created by merging elements of two agencies, the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

    All TDOT is empowered to do regarding illegal immigrant workers is to require companies getting state contracts to sign a pledge that they will not hire them.

    "If they don't sign, they won't get the contract. But we can't investigate, as we don't have an investigative arm," said Lyndsay Botts, a TDOT spokeswoman.

    So TDOT called on the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

    State authorities ordered a halt to work on the Henley Bridge and a number of projects involving Britton and an affiliate in Tennessee after Estrada-Jimenez's death so that safety reviews could be conducted.

    On Thursday, the state gave Britton and affiliate Mountain States Contractors the green light to resume work. Regional construction personnel and safety coordinators with TDOT will regularly visit the targeted projects to monitor safety, officials said.

    Britton Bridge workers began Jan. 3 on the $24.7 million Henley Bridge project.

    A safety review by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration prompted by Womac's death led to proposed fines of $16,750 for various violations. Britton Bridge is appealing the fines.

    www.knoxnews.com
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