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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
05/22/2008

Milwaukee-area restaurant owner arrested for hiring, harboring illegal aliens

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested the owner of an upscale Asian steakhouse on Thursday on charges that he knowingly hired illegal aliens to work at his restaurant and housed them at a Waukesha residence.  The charges resulted from an ICE criminal worksite enforcement investigation.

ICE agents executed a federal search warrant May 22 at Asiana Restaurant, 1198 George Towne Drive in Pewaukee.  They arrested restaurant owner Rong "Ricky" Shi, 32, of Merton, Wis. Shi, a naturalized U.S. citizen from China, who is charged with unlawfully harboring and hiring illegal aliens for financial gain.

ICE agents initiated the investigation following an April 29 arrest when they took into custody four illegal aliens from Mexico and China from a Waukesha residence.  Waukesha Police Department reported receiving numerous complaints from the public regarding a residence located at 2208 Melody Lane; police requested assistance from ICE.  An ICE affidavit unsealed in federal court Thursday alleges that Shi knowingly hired the four illegal aliens to work at his restaurant and harbored them at the Melody Lane residence he owns.

"ICE is committed to enforcing the nation's immigration laws in the workplace to maintain the integrity of our legal immigration system," said Brian Falvey, resident agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Milwaukee.  "Criminal sanctions against employers are an effective deterrent to illegal employment schemes."

ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat employers who unlawfully employ illegal aliens in the United States.  The agency's strategy for effective worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards.  In fiscal year 2007, ICE secured more than $30 million in criminal fines, restitutions, and civil judgments in worksite enforcement cases. ICE arrested 863 people in criminal cases and made more than 4,000 administrative arrests, which is a tenfold increase over 2002 figures.

The penalty for the felony offense of harboring illegal aliens is up to 10 years in federal prison. 

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.