SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A husband and wife pleaded guilty in federal court here Thursday to hiring and harboring illegal aliens who did roofing work for them. This plea was announced by John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Missouri; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the investigation.
Dionel Barrios-Fraire, 27, a Mexican citizen illegally present in the United States, and his wife, Ana Elda Barrios, 25, of Springfield, each pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge James C. England to the charges contained in a May 7 federal indictment.
Barrios-Fraire and Barrios admitted that from February 2007 until April 25, 2008, they aided and abetted each other by unlawfully harboring illegal aliens, transporting the aliens to worksites, and providing documentation and funds to the aliens so that they could remain in the United States illegally.
Barrios-Fraire and Barrios employed illegal aliens to work on roofing jobs they performed for Taylor Made Roofing in Bolivar, Mo. They began performing roofing work for Taylor Made Roofing in February 2007; they continued until August or September 2007 when they moved to Colorado to find more work. They returned to work for Taylor Made Roofing in February 2008 and continued to perform work for Taylor Made Roofing until ICE agents discovered them on April 25. Barrios-Fraire and Barrios always used illegal alien workers to complete the work they performed for Taylor Made Roofing.
Initially, Barrios filled out a W-9 form and provided copies of her identification to the owner of Taylor Made Roofing to gain employment with the company. Barrios filled out the W-9 form in her name and provided copies of her identification documents because she knew her husband did not have a valid Social Security number or proper identification. Eventually, Barrios-Fraire and Barrios signed a subcontractor agreement with Taylor Made Roofing. Barrios-Fraire placed a false Social Security number on the subcontractor agreement for himself.
In January 2007, the owner of Taylor Made Roofing, Russell D. Taylor, asked Barrios-Fraire and Barrios about the legality of their workers. Barrios gathered copies of the false identifications the workers already possessed, and prepared falsified I-9 forms for each of the workers in her employment. Barrios provided these documents to Taylor, knowing the information she provided was false, in order to maintain employment with Taylor Made Roofing.
According to today's plea agreement, Taylor, who knew the workers were illegal aliens, warned Barrios-Fraire that he was going to get caught. But Taylor did not ask Barrios-Fraire or his workers to leave the job site.
Barrios-Fraire and Barrios were paid by Taylor Made Roofing via check. Most, if not all, of the checks were made payable to Barrios, since her husband did not have a valid Social Security number. Barrios cashed the checks at the financial institution where Taylor Made Roofing held its business account, then paid the illegal workers in cash.
Barrios-Fraire and Barrios knew that their employment of the alien workers, the payment to the workers in cash, and the falsification of the I-9 forms facilitated the aliens' ability to remain in the United States illegally by providing them with a means to fulfill their basic living needs, and by shielding them from detection.
On April 25, 2008, ICE agents arrested Barrios-Fraire and four illegal workers he employed at a job site in Fair Grove, Mo. One of the workers was a 16-year-old unaccompanied juvenile.
Under federal statutes, Barrios-Fraire and Barrios each could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes its presentence investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee, Western District of Missouri, is prosecuting this case. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff's Department.
Since it was established in 2003, ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in this country. ICE's comprehensive strategy for worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security and public safety, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards.
So far in fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through July 11, 2008), ICE has made 937 criminal arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations. Of those, 99 involve owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who face charges ranging from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. In addition to the criminal arrests, ICE has made more than 3,500 administrative arrests for immigration violations during worksite investigations in that same time frame. Last year, ICE made more than 4,900 arrests in worksite enforcement cases, including 863 involving criminal violations. Last year's figure represents a 45-fold increase in criminal worksite arrests compared to fiscal year 2001. Furthermore, in fiscal year 2007, ICE obtained more than $31 million in criminal fines, restitutions and civil judgments as a result of worksite related enforcement actions.