Michigan Dairyman Sentenced to Prison for Hiring Illegal Immigrants

A dairy farmer in Michigan has been sentenced to serve time in federal prison and pay a hefty fine after hiring undocumented immigrants.

On Jan. 4, dairy farmer Denis Burke was sentenced to two years in prison by U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington. Following the time served, Burke will have another two years of supervised release.

A fine of $1.38 million was assessed against Burke and his farms.

From February 2008 to May 2013 the Burke hired and harbored more than 100 illegal immigrants on two farms located in Huron County and Tuscola County.

Burke was not immediately taken into custody as the judge granted him additional time to self-report to the U.S. Marshals Services.

Burke already pled guilty in September to knowingly harboring illegal aliens for private gain and/or commercial advantage. Under a plea agreement Burke was not prosecuted for four more charges of the same crime.

"Denis Burke gave the illegal aliens free housing on or next to his farms so the illegal aliens would be readily available for work and less accessible to immigration authorities," the plea deal document says. "Because the illegal aliens lacked valid documentation, they could not get driver's licenses, open accounts at financial institutions so they could cash paychecks themselves, or register vehicles with the Michigan Secretary of State."

Madeline Burke, co-defendant and wife to Burke, also pled guilty in June to one count of hiring without verification of employment eligibility. She was sentenced to two years’ probation and pay a fine of $187,500.

The Burkes emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. and milked 3,500 cows at their Parisville Dairy and Dunganstown Dairy.



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Submitted by Son-of-Butch on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:21

About time laws are enforced.
Dairyherd magazine has been complicit by encouraging disregard for the law too.

Submitted by Jim on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 08:42

It's about time. We need more enforcement and more prison time for offenders. Maybe that would decrease the over supply of milk due to slave labor of the illegals. Make America Great Again!!!!

Submitted by 'Ole Macdoald on Mon, 01/15/2018 - 05:50

....that $1.38 million should be distributed as reparations to all those law abiding dairymen, who have suffered decreased prosperity, caused by those who make more than their share of milk with the employment of an illegal workforce....

In reply to by Jim (not verified)

Submitted by Gabacho de Michigan on Mon, 01/15/2018 - 19:25

As if the use of undocumented labor somehow "decreases prosperity" for allegedly "law abiding" dairymen. First, you would have to find a "law abiding" dairy man. If a dairy farm has hired labor (nearly all of them do), some of their workers will be undocumented. Second, the argument is predicated on a belief that undocumented dairy farm workers are paid less than documented farm workers - not exactly a reality-based assumption. Dairy farms pay the same wage to documented folks as they do to undocumented folks because the farmers are not stupid and they like to avoid prison.

If the employer asks for more than what the law requires, then the employer is subject to lawsuits for civil rights violations. If they ask for less than what the law requires and get caught knowingly hiring undocumented folks, they go to prison like the folks in this story. Accordingly, nearly all dairy farms do exactly what the law requires, nothing more and nothing less. This guy's mistake was in not maintaining plausible deniability and being a nice guy by taking his workers to town himself instead of making them drive themselves.

If you actually speak to anyone running a dairy operation, you will find that they simply need folks who routinely show up for work sober and they would prefer to do it legally. Our current immigration "system", if you wish to call it such, forces otherwise law-abiding people to pretend not to know reality. Our legal system should encourage, not discourage, law-abiding behavior by allowing for the regulated flow of labor back and forth over our borders as dictated by our economic needs.

In reply to by 'Ole Macdoald (not verified)

Submitted by Son-of-Butch on Mon, 01/29/2018 - 13:23

With all due respect Gabacho you are full of shxt.
Advocating plausible deniability proves you're a shyster and a crook.
Because you are crooked explains why you believe ALL dairy farmers are too.

In reply to by Gabacho de Michigan (not verified)

Submitted by S.W. Mn. dirt Farmer on Thu, 01/11/2018 - 11:51

Its not only about time but rather way past time these employers of illegal immigrants are being held accountable,this despicable dairy farmer essentially had a captive work force,they didn't dare leave their abode,would be great to know all the facts in this case,i.e. living conditions,how did the kids attend school,where did they receive medical attention,etc.,etc. etc.
I worked over 10 yrs. at the local hog plant until 2005,the night clean up crew was an outside contracted crew,they always knew if ice were coming in,only the legal ones came that night,supervisors had to stay over and help so the plant would run the next day,ice did a raid once and never again due to the uproar over the action (my opinion) JBS now owns this plant but the clean up crew would no doubt still be contracted,why doesn't ice go in and do an UNANNOUNCED review,political pressure would be my opinion as to why they don't,every large/mega livestock farm should have a surprise random audit of employees at least every 2 yrs. min.,the same for any large employers hiring unskilled workers that have a long time history of hiring undocumented workers. Unannounced visit, not like OSHA when I was a shop foreman,my boss would come into my office and tell me OSHA will be here tomorrow so be sure everything is tip top, this type of action is pure bull shit,the purpose of OSHA is to protect the employees plain and simple,we may be a nation of laws and the best justice system in the world but way too often the law does not apply to many and way too often justice is not fair or just,much like committing perjury under oath and the total failure/refusal of the justice system to enforce it!! It only continues to get worse,Trump can not fix it all,try as he may.

Submitted by 'Ole Macdonald on Mon, 01/15/2018 - 05:41

....this is great....Go Trump....

Submitted by Eric on Fri, 03/16/2018 - 12:01

OK, so CA just hired an illegal alien to a state office, is Jerry Brown going to prison? Or are the laws only applicable to people who aren't in office?