Asian Buffet Owner Sentenced in Probe

The former owner of a California Asian buffet restaurant was sentenced to eight months home confinement and three years probation for hiring undocumented workers to work at his business.

It happened in Vacaville, a lazy California community known more for the occasional earthquake than for immigration raids; but, Mr. Tao Lin got caught. He broke the law, although the issue is a great deal more complex than is typically painted by Federal authorities.

A federal judge sentenced Rui Tao Lin, 53, the former owner of the King’s Buffet in Vacaville, on Friday February 6, 2009. Besides home confinement and probation, the judge also ordered Lin to pay $49,000 in criminal fines. In November 2008, Mr. Lin had pled guilty to employing undocumented workers and mail fraud.

In his guilty plea, Lin admitted that, from June 2006 until September 2008, he hired and assisted in the hiring of employees he knew were illegal aliens. The business hired at least 13 undocumented workers during that span. Only 2 of them were Hispanic. The King’s Buffet would contact an employment agency in Los Angeles to recruit Asian employees, primarily Chinese. The occasional exception, typically from Mexico and Central America, responded to “Help Wanted” notices placed in the business.

Lin is the seventh and final defendant sentenced in the case. The judge noted that the defendant conspired with an employment agency to hire undocumented workers, who, due to their illegal status, were vulnerable to exploitation. He rebuked the defendant’s contention that the Chinese victims were not taken advantage of because the conditions in the United States were better than those left behind in China. “That argument might have once contained an element of truth,” the judge said, “but America is a different place than it used to be.”

The hiring of undocumented Asian workers, many of them Chinese women, is largely an unrecognized phenomenon. Exactly how prevalent the practice is remains unknown, partially due to the language barriers preventing the kind of scrutiny that is more probable in cases of Spanish-speaking undocumented workers, who may also be exploited by restaurant owners. The judge may well have been referring to recession-era economic conditions now prevalent in the United States, as contrasted with the situation perhaps a decade ago during the Clinton Administration.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee. To learn more about Houston immigration lawyer, immigration lawyer in Houston, Houston immigration attorney, visit