Split Rail Fence Co. v. United States, No. 15-9561 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Split Rail Fence Company, Inc., a Colorado business that sold and installed fencing materials, petitions for review of an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) summary decision. The decision imposed civil penalties on Split Rail for violating the Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”) by: (1) “hir[ing] for employment in the United States an individual without complying with the requirements of subsection (b)” of 8 U.S.C. 1324a in violation of section 1324a(a)(1)(B) (Count One); and (2) “continu[ing] to employ [an] alien in the United States knowing the alien is (or has become) an unauthorized alien” in violation of section 1324a(a)(2) (Count Two). ICE special agents conducted an inspection at Split Rail in 2009 and 2011 to determine its compliance with the IRCA. During the inspection, it examined Split Rail’s I-9 forms. ICE served Split Rail with an Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF), commencing this administrative proceeding against Split Rail. Split Rail management stated it “had absolutely no reason to believe either now or at any time in the past that any of [nine individuals identified as ‘current employees’ in the 2011 Notice of Suspect Documents] are anything but law abiding residents of the United States of America.” Split Rail noted many of them were long-term employees who, along with their families, had been involved in company activities, parties, and picnics. He further stated they each appeared authorized to work in the United States because they had bank accounts, cars, homes, and mortgages. He also noted many had valid driver’s licenses and some had filed successful workers’ compensation claims. He did not, however, state that Split Rail had taken any action regarding the employees’ I-9 forms. In 2012, ICE filed its complaint against Split Rail. The ALJ granted ICE summary decision on both counts. Split Rail timely filed its petition for review, but finding no reversible error as to the ALJ's decision, the Tenth Circuit denied Split Rail’s petition.