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One Standard Of Justice?


Yen Wan Cheng hired aliens from Honduras for her Maryland restaurant. She admitted in a plea agreement that she asked for no proof whatever of proper immigration status. The illegal employees lived together in a house she owned, and she drove them to work each day in a van.

Rubashkin, unlike Anagnostou and Cheng, did have a procedure in which applicants for jobs were screened to weed out illegal aliens. In fact, immigration officials acknowledged in a sworn affidavit that an undercover federal agent was rejected twice for a job at Agriprocessors because his documentation was inadequate. And all the Agriprocessors employees were paid by check, with proper deductions for taxes. Nonetheless, prosecutors threw the book at Rubashkin.

Anagnostou and Cheng have both pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in the fall. Unlike Rubashkin, they were released on bail pending their sentences. The likelihood is that neither will serve any time in prison, and if they do it will surely not exceed one year or two. And there is no indication that prosecutors have scrutinized any bank loan records of either of them to see if false representations were made.

Is this a nation of “equal justice under law”?

Nathan Lewin is a Washington attorney who is the lead appellate counsel for Sholom Rubashkin.

About the Author: Nathan Lewin is a Washington, D.C. lawyer who has argued numerous cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and teaches a seminar in Supreme Court litigation at Columbia Law School.


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