Long-Time Point Loma Bakery Closes Down for Good After Immigration Audit

by on January 16, 2020 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

A long-time Point Loma bakery, Con Pane Rustic Breads & Café, just announced it closed its doors for good on Wednesday, January 15 after an immigration audit determined there were undocumented migrants working there.

The bakery had first opened in 1999 at Rosecrans and Canon in Point Loma, then it moved to Liberty Station in 2010. It was supplying breads to a number of San Diego restaurants. Its owners stated they closed down their Dewey Road location at Liberty Station due to what’s called an I-9 audit by immigration authorities, who apparently had found “suspect documents” of an unknown number of their employees.

Through her facebook page, owner Catherine Perez said they were not aware of a large number of their workers being undocumented – and that the closure is a “heartbreaking loss,” but the “discovery of a large number of unauthorized workers has so disrupted operations we have had no choice but to close.” Perez notified customers via Facebook about its closure; she is also halting all wholesale deliveries on Friday, Jan. 17.

Here’s Con Pane’s full statement:

“After first opening Con Pane Rustic Breads & Café on Rosecrans and Canon in Point Loma in 1999, 20 plus years ago, then moving to Liberty Station in 2010, we have permanently closed the café as of January 15, 2020. We will cease wholesale deliveries on Friday, January 17, 2020.

We have been subject to an I-9 audit by immigration authorities (DHS/ICE/INS) which has resulted in a notice of suspect documents. Although we require all workers to provide us with government specified documentation evidencing their employment eligibility, a number of our employees have been, without our knowledge, determined to be unauthorized workers. The discovery of a large number of unauthorized workers has so disrupted operations we have had no choice but to close.

Although closing is a heart-felt loss, it has been an incredible journey filled with laughter and tears. We have had the pleasure of being part of a community we love and have had the honor of being a part of birthdays, graduations, yacht races and weddings through our breads, pastries and sandwiches. We’ve given scone bites to children and have had the joy of watching them grow up and bring in their children for scone bites. We have shared stories and made dear friends and we have lost dear friends. Please know that we thank and appreciate and will miss each and every one of you.

And always remember ….. eat more bread.”

Lori Weisberg at San Diego Union-Tribune spoke to immigration officials and ICE said they cannot confirm audits of particular businesses.  She reported:

“We continue to expect employers and state officials to comply with federal law, established by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, which requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of all individuals they hire,” said ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack. “ICE is the federal agency responsible for enforcing these laws, which were set up to protect jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, and to eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce.” …

On its website, ICE explains that it uses what are known as “I-9 audits” and civil fines to ensure compliance with laws governing the hiring of workers. Since the mid-1980s, potential hires have been required to submit three forms of identification and certify eligibility on what is known as a Form I-9. It is up to the employer to accept or reject those documents.

Employers, states ICE, are given advanced notice of an audit of their hiring records, after which businesses have three days to provide their I-9 forms. After that the agency conducts an inspection, according to the ICE website.

 

News sources:

10News

San Diego Union-Tribune

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Gary Pike January 17, 2020 at 1:17 am

Once again, America blasts its foot off with a 12-gauge shotgun to get a fly off its shoe. We have given ICE and the other “Homeland Security” agencies way too much leeway and power and we only end up closing US businesses over the piddling issue that five or seven out of thirty-forty people working at a bakery never got citizenship. An a native I say: whoop-de-doo. They aren’t building drones for the Air Force and selling parts to the Cubans, it’s bread.

Defund/don’t construct The Wall, come up with a rational visa program, stop deporting people back to countries many of them have no actual contact with.

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Avatar triggerfinger January 17, 2020 at 9:37 am

Do you support open borders?

How would you suggest immigration laws be enforced in this situation?

If I told you none of these workers applied for a work visa would that change your mind?

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie January 17, 2020 at 10:59 am

We certainly need a better system than what we have under Trump. And what peepholes have you been looking through to be able to make any comments about what workers applied for what work visas?

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Avatar triggerfinger January 17, 2020 at 1:00 pm

I don’t claim to know who applied or not. It was a hypothetical question.

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Avatar Peter from South O January 17, 2020 at 11:27 am

This was avoidable. The E-Verify system is available to all employers. This employer did not use that system to check their employee’s eligibility. If I were one of the legal employees that suddenly lost my job over this I would be pissed at my former employers.

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Avatar Sam January 17, 2020 at 12:08 pm

…”I would be pissed at my former employers.”

And I would be pissed at the undocumented as well!

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Avatar Peter from South O January 17, 2020 at 12:36 pm

No, I would not be pissed at those that are about to be detained; when I took a position there was a certain amount of trust in my employer following the law and not jeopardizing my paycheck through illegal or careless actions. The owners of this bakery obviously were at the best careless and at the worst criminal in their hiring workers that were not properly eligible to work in the USA. The non-documented workers are not the villains here.

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Avatar Carl McGuire January 19, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Imagine the money she saved! Her bakers were paid a flat $150/day for a 12 hour shift, saving $100/day per employee, x 10 employess= $1,000/day
=$365,000/year
Yep, big money in hiring them
makes cost/benefit worth it.

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Avatar ellie February 2, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Employees whether they had legal status or not are still fully protected by labor laws and should sue.
A big win for these hard working amigos!!

Excerpts from the article:
“By the time the last checks are dispersed this summer, almost eight years after the suit was filed, the 106 workers who eventually signed on as plaintiffs will have received a share of roughly $8.5 million — a spectacular sum for a wage theft case.
The average plaintiff award in a wage theft case is less than $6,000, according to Samuel Estreicher, a professor at New York University Law School and director of the school’s Center for Labor and Employment Law. These carwasheros (as they call themselves per the article) won an average of more than $80,000 per worker.
See https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/22/nyregion/car-wash-wage-dispute.html?fbclid=IwAR0c-cl4g1MkQ57LPwdicC1RXW0hIzdDd5GbBgLnE4eUZNeuckhpu4NZPn0
Workers put in 12-hour shifts, sponging, drying, and waxing the cars, cleaning the wheels, and vacuuming the interiors, six or even seven days a week.
They worked in frigid and searing weather, were expected to use harsh chemical cleaners without gloves, and endured abuse if they took a few minutes to rest.
For all this, the employees were paid about $50 a day, roughly $4 an hour.
The minimum wage in New York City at the time was $7.25 an hour. Working 72 hours a week, they should have been paid $638, including time and a half for every hour after 40 hours. But the carwasheros received around $300 each week.”

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