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Florida: Illegal alien's injury lawsuit could spark investigation
Jacksonville Times-Union ^ | Feb 17, 2004

Posted on 02/17/2004 7:56:09 AM PST by george wythe

In a case that could bolster a long-running federal grand jury probe into Northeast Florida's construction industry, an undocumented Mexican worker permanently paralyzed on a job site is filing suit today in Jacksonville against homebuilding giant D.R. Horton.

Jorge Gomez, 23, was injured Nov. 11 when a large beam fell on him and broke his neck at a D.R. Horton site in a Julington Creek subdivision, according to the lawsuit. The accident left him a quadriplegic.

As an illegal alien, Gomez has no workers compensation insurance and has run up $500,000 in medical bills at Jacksonville's Memorial Hospital, which continues to treat him, said Gomez's attorney, Gary Pajcic.

Julie Humphress, marketing director for D.R. Horton-Jacksonville, said the company has no record of Gomez, who was working for a framing subcontractor on the site. She said the homebuilder does not employ illegal aliens.

"We have no knowledge of this person. We know that this person was never employed by D.R. Horton," Humphress said. "We want everyone to be safe on our job sites."

Pajcic said that's part of the problem. "They should have a record. He should probably be in rehabilitation by now, but instead he's lying flat on his back in a hospital bed because D.R. Horton had no record of him," Pajcic said. "Jorge's catastrophic injury shows how these illegal business practices can have tragic human consequences. ... Maybe this lawsuit will lead to complete discovery of this problem."

(Excerpt) Read more at jacksonville.com ...


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: aliens; barbarians; biggovernment; foreigninvasion; greatsociety; illegalalien; illegalaliens; illegaliens; illegalmexicans; illegration; insane; invasion; nannystate; plunder; plunderamerica; rewardingcrime; rewardingillegals; stopplunder; taxpayers; theft; thewelfarestate; thoushallnotsteal; thugsplunderamerica; tortreform; welfarestate
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1 posted on 02/17/2004 7:56:11 AM PST by george wythe
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The rest of the article

The lawsuit comes as a federal grand jury in Jacksonville continues to investigate the widespread use of illegal workers and the laundering of their paychecks to dodge workers compensation premiums and taxes in the homebuilding industry. The practice hurts honest contractors because they can't build homes as inexpensively and legitimate subcontractors, who can't compete for work given to illegal aliens at a fraction of the cost, attorneys said.

No indictments have been returned in the five-year probe but one accused participant, former Neptune Beach accountant Robert West, recently went to state prison for paying to have a workers compensation investigator killed. His plan was stopped by state investigators.

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Steve Cole declined comment on the lawsuit.

Attorney Curtis Fallgatter, who has several clients under investigation by the grand jury, said evidence gathered in the suit could bring out facts about illegal workers on construction job sites and how they are paid. But federal prosecutors would still have to prove D.R. Horton and other contractors knowingly hired illegal aliens, a much higher standard of proof, Fallgatter said.

"I'd be a little surprised if it came to light that the Hortons were hiring subcontractors to hire subcontractors to hire illegal aliens," Fallgatter said.

Gomez entered the United States illegally in March but had since applied for a green card allowing him to work legally, Pajcic said. He came to Jacksonville to work construction and was earning about $400 a week when the accident occurred.

Gomez and a crew of three other illegal Mexican workers were lifting a large beam when it fell on him, according to the lawsuit. With no telephone to call for help, the other workers put him in a van and drove him to Memorial, Pajcic said.

"They did not provide any training to these workers. They did not provide any equipment, such as a scaffold or even a crane," Pajcic said. "There were no helmets provided to these workers, which might have prevented this injury."

From his hospital bed at Memorial, Gomez, unable to speak, nodded in agreement as Pajcic explained the lawsuit to him Monday afternoon. Gomez's parents, who got permission to come from Mexico to visit him, wept as they described a happy, friendly son who planned to return to Mexico and marry his fiancee of seven years this December.

Pajcic said Gomez also has filed a workers compensation claim against the framer, FCF Inc. of Jacksonville. Officials there couldn't be reached for comment, but attorneys said they expect the claim to be rejected.

Humphress said D.R. Horton is "meticulous" about making sure its subcontractors comply with workers compensation rules and have liability insurance. But subcontractors frequently farm out work to other subcontractors, and the company can't keep track of all of those, she said.

But the suit contends the ultimate responsibility lies with D.R. Horton.

"When a tragic injury like Jorge's occurs, D.R. Horton should not be able to hide behind sham subcontractors and cover its eyes and pretend to see and hear no evil," Pajcic said. "As the owner and contractor for this home, D.R. Horton ... has the duty under Florida law to maintain a safe place to work. It woefully breached that duty in Mr. Gomez's case."

2 posted on 02/17/2004 7:57:02 AM PST by george wythe
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To: george wythe
Bottom line he shouldn't of been here, we reap what we sow.
3 posted on 02/17/2004 7:57:31 AM PST by HELLRAISER II (Give us another tax break Mr. President)
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To: george wythe
The gates are opened. Let the floods begin.
4 posted on 02/17/2004 7:57:31 AM PST by Glenn (What were you thinking, Al?)
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Attorney Gary Pacjic appears at a news conference with Eduardo and Aurea Gomez, the parents of injured Jorge Gomez
5 posted on 02/17/2004 7:58:01 AM PST by george wythe
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Jorge Gomez, 23, paralyzed in a construction site accident Nov. 11, is being treated at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville, facing bills of about $500,000.
6 posted on 02/17/2004 7:59:05 AM PST by george wythe
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To: george wythe
""I'd be a little surprised if it came to light that the Hortons were hiring subcontractors to hire subcontractors to hire illegal aliens," Fallgatter said."

I wouldn't be suprised at all.

L

7 posted on 02/17/2004 8:00:11 AM PST by Lurker (Don't bite the hand that meads you.)
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To: george wythe
D.R. Horton is not responsible... Jorge was working for a SUBCONTRACTOR... Why not sue the sub-contractor? Because they don't have the deep pockets, that's why.
8 posted on 02/17/2004 8:00:48 AM PST by Lunatic Fringe
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To: george wythe
"We have no knowledge of this person. We know that this person was never employed by D.R. Horton," Humphress said. "We want everyone to be safe on our job sites."

Mr Gomez gets to now experience the downside of being an illegal alien.

If it turns out they are lying, DJ Horton needs to get taken to the cleaners.

9 posted on 02/17/2004 8:01:36 AM PST by skeeter
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To: Glenn
The lawyers found the Achilles’ heel of the illegal labor market, and they lawyers want... money.
10 posted on 02/17/2004 8:01:42 AM PST by george wythe
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To: george wythe
lawyers want... money

They'll probably get it. If not in court then on appeal.

11 posted on 02/17/2004 8:02:32 AM PST by Glenn (What were you thinking, Al?)
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To: Lunatic Fringe
D.R. Horton is not responsible... Jorge was working for a SUBCONTRACTOR... Why not sue the sub-contractor? Because they don't have the deep pockets, that's why.

Horton could have easily avoided any culpability by insisting the subcontractor indemnify them against claims resulting from wrongdoing on the part of the subcontractor.

In a business rife with illegals I sure would.

12 posted on 02/17/2004 8:04:51 AM PST by skeeter
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: Lunatic Fringe
"D.R. Horton is not responsible... Jorge was working for a SUBCONTRACTOR... Why not sue the sub-contractor?"

The general has the insurance coverage and it held responsible since he hires the subs.

These guys had full knowledge of who is working on site. They deserve getting bitten for taking their shortcuts.
14 posted on 02/17/2004 8:05:53 AM PST by moehoward
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To: LindaSOG
Sorry but those are my tax dollars. deport him and let mexico give him free medical care.

Deduct the 500 grand from whatever aid program to Mexico is most appropriate and pay the hospital, then deport him.

15 posted on 02/17/2004 8:10:17 AM PST by JimRed (Disinformation is the leftist's and enemy's friend; consider the source before believing.)
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To: george wythe
If he wasn't here legally then what happened to him is the fault of nobody but him.
16 posted on 02/17/2004 8:11:11 AM PST by Bikers4Bush (Flood waters rising, heading for more conservative ground. Write in Tancredo in 04'!)
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To: skeeter
Horton could have easily avoided any culpability by insisting the subcontractor indemnify them against claims resulting from wrongdoing on the part of the subcontractor.

I work for a general contractor, and I do business with many subcontractors. Part of my job is to make sure every subcontract I write has all these CYA provisions.

Nevertheless, I know that ultimately the general contractor will be held responsible when the subcontractor has no assets.

Deep pockets is all you need to know. A judge can invalidate all those disclaimers in the subcontract very quickly.

Somebody’s gotta pay these millions of dollars, and the humble frame subcontractor will declare bankruptcy and leave the general contractor holding the bag.

It’s always been that way.

17 posted on 02/17/2004 8:11:32 AM PST by george wythe
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To: george wythe
Illegals here in JAX, I'm shocked.
18 posted on 02/17/2004 8:13:26 AM PST by OXENinFLA
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To: Lurker
LOL. Neither would the folks at WalMart. ;-)
19 posted on 02/17/2004 8:16:19 AM PST by Scenic Sounds (Sí, estamos libres sonreír otra vez - ahora y siempre.)
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To: george wythe
A judge can invalidate all those disclaimers in the subcontract very quickly.

Thats pretty discouraging, since subcontracts (in a different industry) is my business, too.

Whats a formal agreement worth if the final judgment is dependant entirely upon what some gereatric jurist had for breakfast?

20 posted on 02/17/2004 8:20:16 AM PST by skeeter
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: JimRed
>Deduct the 500 grand from whatever aid program to Mexico is most appropriate and pay the hospital, then deport him.<

I'll second that. Since I've already helped pay some of his medical cost, I might as well pitch in on a one way ticket too.
22 posted on 02/17/2004 8:23:04 AM PST by highnoon (Revenge is a dish best served cold.)
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To: george wythe
Send the bill to Bush in care of the Whitehouse.
23 posted on 02/17/2004 8:23:45 AM PST by cynicom
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To: george wythe
Since it's illegal to hire illegals, any news of the DA pursuing the company he was actually working for?
24 posted on 02/17/2004 8:25:01 AM PST by drypowder
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To: LindaSOG
Sorry but those are my tax dollars. deport him and let mexico give him free medical care.

Countries that are supplying the illegal aliens should be forced to pay these type bills... especially Mexico since they are openly encouraging their people to violate our laws.

25 posted on 02/17/2004 8:27:35 AM PST by Reaganwuzthebest
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To: george wythe
Considering the fact that he's illegal in the first place, and in the second place, probably shares the sentiments expressed in this article (Mexicans Boo Star-Spangled Banner), I hope they ship him back to his country of origin and let them worry about his condition--and pay the medical bills.
26 posted on 02/17/2004 8:29:19 AM PST by MizSterious (First, the journalists, THEN the lawyers.)
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To: skeeter
To mitigate potential damages in judicial proceedings, the general contractor (my company) pays hefty insurance premiums.

Furthermore, we require the subcontractors to carry insurance also. Nevertheless, sometimes the subcontractor will make a few payments on the his insurance and stop further payments, leading to a situation where he can show me a piece of paper claiming he has insurance when he does not.

It's frustrating, but it's part of the risk of doing business.

In order to further protect ourselves, the original general contractor was broken up into three different companies. In case one those companies has to go under due to a large adverse judgment, at least the remaining other companies that can provide some help to start over.

27 posted on 02/17/2004 8:30:27 AM PST by george wythe
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To: drypowder
Since it's illegal to hire illegals, any news of the DA pursuing the company he was actually working for?

Yes, read comment #2.

The illegal labor market is being investigated in Jacksonville.

28 posted on 02/17/2004 8:33:33 AM PST by george wythe
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To: george wythe
Florida: Illegal alien's injury lawsuit could spark investigation

There are seven thousand attorneys who work for illegals night and day obstructing our laws. They support illegals caught in racketeering, drug smuggling, robberies and murder.

I'm sure the attorneys would love to be able to start suing Americans for illegals' injuries suffered on the jobs. I don't know why they haven't thought of that before now. I see the lawyer fee becoming an enticement for such suits.

29 posted on 02/17/2004 8:36:21 AM PST by swampfox98 (Beyond 2004 - Chaos)
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To: Bikers4Bush
If he wasn't here legally then what happened to him is the fault of nobody but him.

As much as I want the border closed, and the illegals out, that simply isn't true. His "legal" status had nothing to do with a beam being dropped on him.

30 posted on 02/17/2004 8:43:19 AM PST by freedomluvr1778
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To: Baynative
This problem is wide spead and it is kept alive by trial lawyers

The trial lawyers' job is to remove the malignant growth of money in a businessman's bank account.

First of all, they will sue the honest businessman who tries to avoid hiring illegal aliens for discrimination. If we ask too many questions about prospective employees, or of we refuse to do business with subcontractors we suspect of hiring illegal aliens, we will get sued for discrimination against brown people

Furthermore, general contractors that don't deal with minority-owned subcontractors are not given access to many government contracts. These "minority" subcontractors tend to be 'sloppy' when it comes to hiring illegal aliens...

Then the lawyers turn around and sue us because we hired illegal aliens through the use of subcontractors.

It's a cat-n-mouse game plus Catch-22 rolled into one.

31 posted on 02/17/2004 8:46:49 AM PST by george wythe
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To: freedomluvr1778
Yes it did, had he come her legally he likely would not have been working for an outfit hiring illegals. Likewise had he not come here illegally and stayed where he belonged until going about things properly he would have also not been in harms way.

What happened is his responsibility alone. Come here illegally and get hurt, tough. Cry to mother mexico.
32 posted on 02/17/2004 8:59:52 AM PST by Bikers4Bush (Flood waters rising, heading for more conservative ground. Write in Tancredo in 04'!)
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To: Lunatic Fringe
No indictments have been returned in the five-year probe

THAT is the PROBLEM!!!

Feds bury cases in "ongoing investigation" secret Grand Jury!!

33 posted on 02/17/2004 9:00:31 AM PST by Lael (Patent Law...not a single Supreme Court Justice is qualified to take the PTO Bar Exam!)
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To: george wythe; Congressman Billybob; Sabertooth; Baynative; drypowder; HELLRAISER II; LindaSOG; ...
What's common to nearly all of the illegal scandals we see each week? Federal and state governments seem unable or unwilling to enforce the laws and hold the illegals accountable. Instead, the illegals receive windfalls of government and private services, not to mention compensation in tort actions when they are injured. It's a national disgrace.

I think a large part of the problem can be solved by privatizing the law enforcement as much as possible. It's very unlikely Congress will privatize the border patrol to stop the supply of illegal labor. But it is practical to pass legislation enabling the private sector to reduce the demand for illegal labor.

A good place to start is to hold employers liable for the medical expenses incurred by their illegal employees and to give hospitals currently forced to cover those expenses the right to recover from employers in civil courts. If states passed such laws, the cost of illegal labor would rise sharply, demand would fall, and fewer illegals would find it economically advantageous to flood the border.

This proposal doesn't address every problem but it does at least avoid the Achilles heel of most reform proposals: excessive dependence on government law [non-]enforcement. The only government action required is passing one law in each state (or one at the federal level). And I'm sure there is enough civic outrage in most states to force legislatures to pass the bills.

34 posted on 02/17/2004 9:13:21 AM PST by Law
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To: skeeter
I would be surprised if D.R. Horton knew they had illegals working on the site. As a matter of fact they would go out of their way to not know.
35 posted on 02/17/2004 9:21:29 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: Bikers4Bush
Jorge Gomez can go...Cry me a River.
36 posted on 02/17/2004 9:22:10 AM PST by Lady Eileen
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To: Baynative

This problem is wide spead and it is kept alive by trial lawyers. I have witnessed illegals work for one day using a fake green card and complain of back injury.

It would seem to be in the interest of employers to only hire US citizens. But is that legal?

37 posted on 02/17/2004 9:29:47 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: Bikers4Bush
Yes it did, had he come her legally he likely would not have been working for an outfit hiring illegals.

Irrelevant. Plenty of U.S. born persons have been injured in construction accidents.

What happened is his responsibility alone.

No, it simply is not, no matter how many time you want to say it. He and the subcontractor had an agreement - he worked, and in turn, was compensated. I highly doubt part of their agreement was "If you get hurt, tough luck". Aperson does not lose natural and human rights because they are in some geographic area "illegally". He still has the right not to be injured through the negligence of another. This isn't like some thug breaking into your house, cutting himself on your broken window, and demanding you compensate him. Not even close. The sub-contractor is 100% reposnisible for the injuries, unless the injured caused it himself(which isn't alleged in the story). His "legal" statuse does not remove liability from a negligent party.

Come here illegally and get hurt, tough. Cry to mother mexico.

That's a warped sense of repsonsibility you have there. So, are you telling me, that if I find a Mexican who just crossed the border, I have the legal right under the laws of this country, and the moral right, to beat him, rob him, rape him and enslave him? I mean, that is essentially what you are saying - the person has no rights and its "tough". Please clarify if that is not your belief.

38 posted on 02/17/2004 9:29:50 AM PST by freedomluvr1778
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To: Law
You know it amazes me how much we patrol the illegal Cubans coming to our country illegally while giving the Mexicans free reign. I don't have anything against either one, but I don't favor letting either country flood us with illegal immigrants. We as a country are made up of generations of aliens that came from different countries over the years, but that was then and this is now. It's going to have to stop or we won't make it as a country, especially those of us who are working to pay for medical benefits for scumbags who refuse to work or even those who work illegally and get hurt. Either way, we're paying for it and as a tax payer who pay's 25% of every dollar he makes to Uncle Sam, i'm sick and tired of it.
39 posted on 02/17/2004 9:34:37 AM PST by HELLRAISER II (Give us another tax break Mr. President)
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To: george wythe

sometimes the subcontractor will make a few payments on the his insurance and stop further payments, leading to a situation where he can show me a piece of paper claiming he has insurance when he does not.

Can you call the insurance company to check if the policy is paid up?

40 posted on 02/17/2004 9:38:35 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: HELLRAISER II
>>Bottom line he shouldn't of been here, we reap what we sow.

When food is left out in a kitchen, the kitchen soon has a healthy population of roaches and mice.

"Sub-contractors" who hire illegal aliens provide the incentive for more illegal aliens to enter our country.


Jail a few "Home Builder" CEOs, who pad the bottom line by utilizing "Sub-contractors" that hire border-jumpers, and we'll see a drop in illegal immigration.

41 posted on 02/17/2004 9:39:24 AM PST by VxH (This species has amused itself to death.)
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To: freedomluvr1778
It's not irrelevant, he was working for someone who hires illegals, the short cuts that are associated with hiring carry over to safety.

He chose to come here illegally and he chose to work for an outfit that hires illegals. He made choices, bad ones that cost him the use of his limbs. Tough. Had he come here legally he could have gotten a real job with benefits etc. and would have been able to report any unsafe working conditions without fear. His problem not mine.

As for your last part I'm of the opinion that illegals should be shot as they are trying to cross the border, in other words I have no tolerance.

Nice drama though, I never said those things nor implied them but I see you like to make great leaps of assumption.

The only thing the builder should be responsible for is paying the penalty for having an illegal work on the job site. Other than that we should dump this guy and his family on the other side of the border immediately.
42 posted on 02/17/2004 9:49:01 AM PST by Bikers4Bush (Flood waters rising, heading for more conservative ground. Write in Tancredo in 04'!)
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To: Dan Evans
Can you call the insurance company to check if the policy is paid up?

The short answer is "I don't know."

The longer answer will be that even if it is legal, I will become Babysitter Extraordinaire if I'm supposed to call every month to every sub's insurance company to see if his payments are current.

What about his tax liabilities? Should I call the IRS and ask if he's paying all his taxes? Should I call the State and City and asked if he's paid all his taxes?

What about his employees' legal status? Should I hire a private investigator to determine whose employees are illegal alien? Should I hire a forgery expert to determine which sub's employees are working with phony papers?

It's bad enough as it is right now with the amount of paperwork I'm supposed to maintain. The system has become too complicated, riddled with legal pitfalls and menacing lawsuits.

Furthermore, the subs have plenty of other tricks up their sleeves. He can set up a fake answering service where a person answers preteding to be the insurance agent, for example.

As I said, this is just a mouse-and-cat game, and I realize that if the sub does not have millions to pay the lawyers, the laywers and their friendly judges will always come after the deep pockets. Everything else is irrelevant.

43 posted on 02/17/2004 10:04:01 AM PST by george wythe
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To: Bikers4Bush
First you post:

As for your last part I'm of the opinion that illegals should be shot as they are trying to cross the border, in other words I have no tolerance.

Then:

Nice drama though, I never said those things nor implied them but I see you like to make great leaps of assumption.

ROTFLMAO!!!!

You want to shoot them while they are still on Mexican soil and I made great leaps of assumption by saying you probably think its ok to beat, rob, rape or enslave them once on American soil??? I was giving you credit that maybe you didn't think it was morally justified to actualy kill them.

That's just rich.

Carry on. No need to go any further.

44 posted on 02/17/2004 10:08:39 AM PST by freedomluvr1778
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To: HELLRAISER II

You know it amazes me how much we patrol the illegal Cubans coming to our country illegally while giving the Mexicans free reign.

Yes, ironic even. Cubans are offered refugee status if they make it to our shores, but the coast guard works as hard as they can to keep them out. Mexicans don't get refugee status but the Feds are lackadaisical about protecting the border.

45 posted on 02/17/2004 10:09:16 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: Dan Evans
It would seem to be in the interest of employers to only hire US citizens. But is that legal?

No. Unless you are employer whose workers are required by law to be US citizens, such as contractors that provide sensitive services to the US military.

46 posted on 02/17/2004 10:11:00 AM PST by george wythe
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To: george wythe

If we ask too many questions about prospective employees, or of we refuse to do business with subcontractors we suspect of hiring illegal aliens, we will get sued for discrimination against brown people

It seems employers are between a rock and a hard place. It all boils down to too much regulation, too much litigation -- too much government.

47 posted on 02/17/2004 10:16:12 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: george wythe

As I said, this is just a mouse-and-cat game, and I realize that if the sub does not have millions to pay the lawyers, the laywers and their friendly judges will always come after the deep pockets. Everything else is irrelevant.

It sounds like quite a nightmare. Amazing that people actually believe that illegal immigration is good for the economy.

48 posted on 02/17/2004 10:31:12 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: freedomluvr1778
What's rich is that you can't tell the difference between what my opinion is of what should be done and what I said originally. The two are unrelated.

As for shooting them on mexican soil uhm no, I think our soldiers should do it once they are on our soil. The illegals are invaders and invaders should be shot. Now whether or not we should kill them with those shots is certainly open for debate.

My preference would be to wound them and push them back over to their side of the border. No robbing, raping or beating or enslaving need be done.

Nice drama again though.
49 posted on 02/17/2004 10:43:33 AM PST by Bikers4Bush (Flood waters rising, heading for more conservative ground. Write in Tancredo in 04'!)
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To: OXENinFLA
D R Horton is building me a fine new home on the north side of Jax. I did check it for "loose beams", moon beams, and illegal aliens. Can't wait to move in!!!
50 posted on 02/17/2004 11:04:00 AM PST by Dixie Pirate
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