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Worksite Enforcement

Springfield restaurant owner sentenced for harboring illegal aliens

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The former owner of a local restaurant was sentenced here yesterday to 18 months in federal prison for harboring illegal aliens at his buffet restaurant. The sentence resulted from a criminal worksite enforcement investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Xian Xi Ye, 41, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Jeanne E. Scott to 18 months in prison for harboring illegal aliens.  Xi Ye, the former owner of the "Buffet City" restaurant, appeared in federal court in Springfield via video connection from the Federal Medical Center in South Carolina.  In addition to the prison sentence, Xi Ye was also ordered to pay a $2,500 fine within one year.  As an illegal alien from China, Xi Ye will be turned over to ICE and placed into deportation proceedings after he completes his prison sentence.

Xi Ye pleaded guilty in September to providing housing, employment and transportation to the illegal aliens who worked at his restaurant.  The charges resulted from a criminal worksite investigation conducted by ICE in September 2006, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor. At that time, ICE agents also arrested 16 illegal aliens who were employed at the Buffet City restaurant and placed them into deportation proceedings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Chesley, Central District of Illinois, successfully prosecuted the case against Xi Ye.

Xi Ye's co-defendant, Xiang Hui Ye, 29, former co-owner and manager of the restaurant, is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 31. Hui Ye was convicted in October following a jury trial charging him with harboring and employing illegal aliens at the restaurant.

"ICE aggressively targets employers who knowingly and recklessly employ an illegal alien workforce," said Greg Archambeault, resident agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Springfield.  "We will use all our investigative tools to pursue employers who take advantage of illegal labor to make an unlawful profit."