Calif Latino grocery chain fights immigration woes

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Associated Press

Posted on October 28, 2012 at 7:01 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 28 at 7:01 AM

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Two decades ago, Mi Pueblo Food Center began as a small butcher shop run by an illegal immigrant. Now, it has grown into a popular chain of 21 Hispanic grocery stores in Northern and Central California.

But the company is under fire from an ongoing immigration audit and its decision to use a controversial federal program that screens the eligibility of new employees to work in the U.S.

The union organizing Mi Pueblo' 3,200 workers is also leading a consumer boycott against the company.

Experts say immigration audits — an Obama administration alternative to immigration raids — can cause a dilemma for companies that cater to immigrants.

They have to fire workers who lack employment authorization, but can also face the ire of the community and labor unions.

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