In June 2018, several social media pages centered around odd or unexpected facts shared a story about how the Golden State Fence Company was fined $5 million for hiring undocumented workers to build a border wall:
This story is true. However, since sources failed to note exactly when the fine was levied and because the political conversation in June 2018 was extremely focused on border security (and because many seem to be unaware that there has been a border wall separating the United States and Mexico for many years), many assumed that these events were somehow connected to the Trump administration.
Some pages made the link explicit:
Trump and his cronies are nothing but a bunch of corrupt hypocrites.
Although it is true that the Golden State Fence Company was fined $5 million for hiring undocumented workers, this fine was levied in December 2006. As NPR reported at the time:
A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company’s work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.
After an immigration check in 1999 found undocumented workers on its payroll, Golden State promised to clean house. But when followup checks were made in 2004 and 2005, some of those same illegal workers were still on the job. In fact, U-S Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company’s 750 workers may have been in the country illegally.
These memes also made it seem as if the Golden State Fence Company’s sole project was the border wall, but the company was found to have hired undocumented workers on a variety of projects over the years. NBC reported that one of its construction projects was part of a fourteen-mile-long border fence in San Diego in the late 1990s:
Prosecutors allege the company hired more than 100 illegal immigrants from 1999 to 2005, and continued to employ dozens of undocumented workers even after two government audits.
Among its projects: construction of part of a 14-mile border fence in San Diego in the late 1990s.
Although this company was truly fined $5 million for hiring undocumented workers, this took place in 2006 — during the presidency of George W. Bush, not Donald Trump. Furthermore, the company’s involvement with the border wall was in the late 1990s, during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
NPR. “Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers.”
14 December 2006.
NBC News. “Execs Plead Guilty to Hiring Illegal Immigrants.”
14 December 2006.