DoJ Judge: It's OK to Fire a Good Man for Doing a Good Deed

By David North on June 15, 2011

This is a story of how a good man who blew the whistle on his own employer for immigration law violations was fired, and how a federal hearing officer said that was OK. Here are the facts and the law.

Fact #1. Daniel Cavazos, Jr. had worked for Wanxiang America Corp., a Chinese-owned auto parts manufacturer, apparently in the Middle West; he told the warehouse supervisor that he was planning to tell federal authorities that the firm was hiring illegal aliens. He was fired.

Fact #2. There is, within the U.S. Department of Justice's Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) a small quasi-judicial operation called the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO); it deals with, among other things, discrimination on the basis of citizenship and retaliation for helping to enforce the law.

Fact #3. Cavazos filed a complaint with OCAHO saying that his employer had fired him in retaliation for his whistle-blowing, but his case was dismissed in a decision by Administrative Law Judge Ellen K. Thomas.

The Law. ALJ Thomas did not dispute Cavazos' statement of facts, but ruled, according to a report in Interpreter Releases (May 23, 2011), the immigration bar's trade paper, as follows:

She explained that the unlawful employment of aliens is a violation of INA § 274A, the right of individuals to file written complaints respecting the hiring of unauthorized aliens . . . is expressly set out in INA § 274A(e)(1)(A), and the procedures for so doing are set out in 8 CFR § 274a9(a) to (b). On the other hand, INA § 274B is a provision that prohibits discrimination of the basis of citizenship status or national origin, and INA § 274B(a)(5) prohibits retaliation only for engaging in activity specifically protected by INA § 274B . . .

As I read it Cavazos lost his case because he orally declared his intention of blowing the whistle, rather than doing so in writing.

Though I am not a lawyer, I would argue that the ALJ was remiss for not paying attention to the intent of the law, as opposed to the letter of the law. I would also fault the law itself for its narrow wording, but neither concept will do Cavazos much good.

Were he to turn a blind eye the next time he saw the federal law being violated, I would not blame him one little bit.