ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Did you know there's a Web site dedicated to exposing employers of illegal immigrants? It's called wehirealiens.com and it's asking people to report on employers, or neighbors, or anyone they think could be using illegal immigrant labor. And as Steven Cuevas of member station KPCC reports, it can be done anonymously.
Mr. STEVEN CUEVAS: I'm curious to see how the Web site works. How can I become what creator Jason Mrochek calls a citizen patriot?
Mr. JASON MROCHEK (Creator, wehirealiens.com): You know, there's a link on the left under employer information to add an employer. You click on that link and...
Mr. CUEVAS: The former Army officer turned computer software designer logs on to show me.
Mr. MROCHEK: And it will bring up a form. It will ask you, you know what industry. And then down here is where you actually enter in the information you have and we tell you to be as specific as possible.
Mr. CUEVAS: Mrochek says if an allegation sounds plausible it gets posted. These tips submitted anonymously by people all over the U.S. are also forwarded to U.S. immigration authorities. An immigration and customs enforcement spokesperson says the agency is aware of Mrochek's Web site but does not use it as part of its investigations. In fact, ICE discourages people from posting these kinds of allegations on a public Web site. But this hasn't discouraged Mrochek. He believes the Web site is deterrent enough for employers just thinking of hiring an illegal worker.
Mr. MROCHEK: If I do this, I may end up on a site like this. I may end up reported to ICE because the American public is starting to really take - sit up and take notice and it's no longer business as usual.
Mr. CUEVAS: The allegations on wehirealiens.com are never verified. The accused employer is never notified. More than twenty-five hundred of them have landed on the site since its launch in 2005.
Juanita Barajas didn't know someone had accused her of hiring illegal immigrants until contacted for this story.
Ms. JUANITA BARAJAS (Louie's Nursery): And I (unintelligible) somebody just wanted to give us a bad reputation out there.
Mr. CUEVAS: Barajas runs Louie's Nursery in Riverside, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles. She is accused of employing an illegal immigrant to deliver and plant trees. Barajas says she'd never hire an illegal immigrant and besides, the contractor in question is actually a U.S. citizen. Barajas could get herself removed from the wehirealiens Web site but it wouldn't be easy. Web site founder, Jason Mrochek, tells employers they must first submit detailed evidence proving they did nothing wrong. He suggests hiring a private eye to do an internal investigation. Short of that...
Ms. BETH GARRIO(ph) (Staff attorney, National Federation of Independent Business): Your recourse would be contacting an attorney and you know proceeding with potential - you know, a defamation claim.
Mr. CUEVAS: Beth Garrio is head staff attorney with the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents hundreds of small business across the country.
Ms. GARRIO: I would hope that the individuals that run this Web site would be willing to remove a business's name before that. Because the last thing, you know, a business owner wants to do is institute litigation.
Mr. CUEVAS: Jason Mrochek says a few people have threatened to sue him, but they never followed through. To some people though, like Logan Jenkins, this presumption of guilt smacks of a McCarthy-era style witch hunt. Jenkins is a columnist with the San Diego Union Tribune. He says he may have hired illegal immigrants to do some yard work without realizing it. He may do it again. So he turned himself in to the wehirealiens.com Web site. Then, he wrote about it.
Mr. LOGAN JENKINS (Columnist, San Diego Union Tribune): You guys are going to tar businesses on the basis of somebody's random remark, well maybe the best way to show the absurdity of this whole enterprise is to drown them in good names, as I put it. So I offered my own.
Mr. CUEVAS: That was more than a year ago. Jenkins' submission is still posted on the website. Immigration agents, however, have never raided his home. For NPR News, I'm Steven Cuevas in Riverside, California.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.