CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Benton County, Iowa, man was convicted Tuesday of one count of knowingly employing illegal aliens. The convictions are the culmination of a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and local Iowa law enforcement.
In a plea agreement, Kenneth Birker admitted he knowingly employed three illegal aliens at his dairy farm. He also entered a guilty plea on behalf of his business, Birker Inc., to one count of harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or financial gain. In November 2001, Birker hired a husband and wife who were illegal aliens. In May 2004, Birker hired a third illegal alien who was related to the others. During their employment, Birker learned the husband and wife had illegally entered the United States from Mexico. He also learned the three employees did not have drivers' licenses; and they were rejected by Birker Inc.'s health insurance provider because their identities could not be confirmed. In late 2004, Birker met with an immigration attorney hired by the husband and wife, and he agreed that Birker Inc. would assist the husband and wife in attempting to legalize their status.
Birker remains free on bond pending sentencing. He faces a possible maximum sentence of six months' imprisonment or five years' probation, and a $3,000 fine per alien. Birker Inc. faces a possible maximum sentence of probation for one to five years, a fine of up to $500,000, or twice the gross gain resulting from the offense, and a special assessment of $400.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan, Northern District of Iowa, is prosecuting this case.
The case was investigated by ICE HSI, the Vinton Police Department, and the Benton County Sheriff's Office.