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Feds to probe Chipotle restaurants again for illegal workers

Earlier this year, Department of Homeland Security officials announced that it was aiming its deportation efforts against illegal immigrants who have criminal records and are a threat to society. However, this isn't stopping the feds from coming down hard on employers who are suspected of hiring immigrants without the proper documentation.

Last week, federal prosecutors and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced investigations into the hiring practices of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., a restaurant chain known for their burritos and other Mexican cuisine. Authorities claim that some restaurant employees were hired even though they are undocumented immigrant workers.

The probe, authorities say, may go on for a number of years, despite the fact that the business has denied doing anything wrong and has even submitted a voluminous 300,000 pages of documentation of its hiring practices.

The focus of the investigation is on whether the restaurants complied with all the technical requirements of verifying whether individual employees were authorized to work in the United States before hiring them.

This isn't the first time Chipotle has been accused of hiring undocumented immigrants. After a nationwide investigation by immigration authorities two years ago, 450 suspected undocumented workers at the restaurant's locations in Minnesota lost their jobs.

The restaurant chain doesn't believe in the franchise model of doing business, which means it handles its own hiring decisions. A spokesman for Chipotle said that the company was surprised with the new allegations. He added that the company plants "to continue to fully cooperate in the government's investigations."

Even with the controversy that has surrounded the business during recent years, Chipotle restaurants have continued to be highly profitable. In fact, the company's net income increased by more than 35 percent in the first three months of 2012, reaching a height of $62.7 million.

Source: LA Times, "Chipotle federal immigration probe: 'We didn't do anything wrong'," Tiffany Hsu, May 23, 2012

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