147 F.3d 798 (9th Cir. 1998), 96-70482, Robison Fruit Ranch, Inc. v. United States

Docket Nº:96-70482.
Citation:147 F.3d 798
Party Name:D.A.R. 6884 ROBISON FRUIT RANCH, INC., Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America, Respondent.
Case Date:June 24, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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147 F.3d 798 (9th Cir. 1998)

D.A.R. 6884



UNITED STATES of America, Respondent.

No. 96-70482.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 24, 1998

Argued and Submitted Sept. 12, 1997.

William A. Morrow, Daniel R. Hardee, White, Peterson, Pruss, Morrow & Gigray, P.A., Nampa, Idaho, for the petitioner.

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Carol J. Mackela, Robin M. Stutman, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Washington, DC, for the respondent.

Petition to Review a Decision of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. OCAHO No. 93B00054.

Before: SCHROEDER and BEEZER, Circuit Judges, and SCHWARZER, [*] District Judge.

SCHROEDER, Circuit Judge:

This is a petition for review of a decision of an Administrative Law Judge in the Executive Office of Immigration Review. The ALJ ruled that Petitioner, Robison Fruit Ranch, violated the "document abuse" provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(6), as it existed before its 1996 amendment.

The ALJ held that Robison violated the Act by requesting specific documents from job applicants when completing Immigration and Naturalization Service Form I-9 for verification of employment eligibility. Robison asked both alien and citizen applicants to show two items of identification when a single document, such as a passport or alien registration card, would have sufficed. The ALJ imposed a $60,000 fine.

Robison requested documents that virtually all applicants had in their possession and in fact commonly used to fill out other required employment forms. No authorized alien had any difficulty complying with the request. The question is whether, in the absence of any showing of discrimination, Robison violated the statute. We conclude it did not.


The statute in question is 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(6) as it existed during the 1990-93 period, when the events in question occurred. It then provided in pertinent part:

[an employer]'s request, for purposes of satisfying the requirements of [8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b) ], for more or different documents than are required under such subsection or refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine shall be treated as an unfair immigration-related employment practice relating to the hiring of individuals.

The statute was amended in 1996 to add an express requirement of discrimination. It now provides that the described documentary requests shall be treated as unfair employment practices "if made for the purpose or with the intent of discriminating against an individual in violation of paragraph (1)." Paragraph (1) is the statute's general anti-discrimination provision, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin or citizenship status, except, of course, against an alien who is not authorized to work. See 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(1). This provision constitutes a key protection against unfairness in the administration of the IRCA's requirement that employers verify that job applicants are either citizens or aliens authorized to work. See 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b).

The material facts are not in dispute. Petitioner Robison is a family-owned fruit orchard in Idaho and employs a large number of migrant seasonal workers to harvest fruit. Many of the seasonal workers are aliens, and many do not speak or write English.

Central to an understanding of this case is Form I-9 itself. The form used by Robison during the period in question was the 1990 form that is attached as an addendum to this opinion. The form was revised in 1991. The revised form states expressly that employers cannot specify any particular document they will accept from employees. Robison, however, did not begin using the revised form until 1993, after most of the events in question here had occurred.

The purpose of the form is to verify the applicant's identity and eligibility to work. Section 1 of Form I-9, entitled "Employee Information and Verification," requires the

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applicant to attest to his work eligibility. Section 2 of the form, entitled "Employer Review and Verification," requires the employer to examine an applicant's documents and certify that the documents appear to be genuine and that the individual is eligible to work in the United States. The employee may present one document from List A or one document from each of Lists B and C. The documents on List A, such as an alien registration card (green card) or a U.S. Passport, establish both identity and work eligibility. The documents on List B, such as a driver's license, establish identity but not eligibility to work. The documents on List C, such as a social security card, establish eligibility to work but not identity.

Throughout the period in question, hiring at Robison Ranch was done primarily by the receptionist-bookkeeper and the office manager. The evidence showed that they commonly requested U.S. citizen applicants to show a driver's license and social security card. They requested alien applicants to show an INS document and a social security card. Some employees were requested to show "two forms of ID." The foreman who assisted Spanish speaking pickers or referred Spanish speaking applicants to the office commonly told them that they would need two forms of ID.

A number of workers testified that they volunteered ID without a specific request. Many of the alien workers used both their green cards and their social security cards when they filled out Section 1, which requires aliens to write down their social security number and alien registration number. These applicants offered the same documents for examination and photocopying when they came to Section 2 of the form.

All of the workers who filled out I-9s were hired, and no worker was rejected for lack of satisfactory documentation. One English speaking U.S. citizen testified that he was told that he could not be hired until he showed his social security card, which he did a day later. No other employee testified that he or she was ever told that hiring required a certain form of ID, and no worker testified that Robison refused proper documents when offered and demanded other documents instead.

In 1993, while investigating other charges, the Office of Special Counsel, Executive Office of Immigration Review, ("OSC") learned of Robison's practice of asking for...

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