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Hugo Diaz flew under the radar

Posted: February 29, 2012 - 12:01am  |  Updated: February 29, 2012 - 10:34am

As the federal case against Hugo and Blanca Diaz whimpers to a close, there’s a need to clear a misconception surrounding the case.

Columbia County government didn’t enable this illegal enterprise. Hugo and Blanca made (much of) their money not by being licensed builders themselves, but by providing workers to licensed builders.

That’s a vitally important distinction. Here’s why:

Licensed builders must obtain a state general contractors license, which among other things requires proof of U.S. citizenship.

Hugo and Blanca aren’t U.S. citizens. Blanca is being deported, and Hugo will be once he finishes his sentence in federal prison. Because they weren’t here legally, neither legally could get a state license. Lacking that license, they couldn’t apply for or receive county building permits.

Columbia County didn’t stop them because it didn’t have the opportunity.

“He had to have a state contractor’s license to build and he never had that, so he never had to pull a permit,” said Columbia County Development Services Division Director Richard Harmon. “He was a subcontractor to builders. He hung sheetrock and he framed buildings. ... To do all those things you don’t have to have permits, because all those are covered under the builder’s license.

“If he actually was a builder, he would have to have had a state license as a builder to pull permits, and he didn’t have such an animal,” Harmon said. “For obvious reasons, he didn’t apply for one.”

To sum up: Hugo and Blanca Diaz and their various entities couldn’t be licensed as contractors because Hugo and Blanca are illegal aliens. But they didn’t need licenses as long as they were merely supplying labor (from other illegal immigrants) to contractors, who used their license to purchase the permits.

Diaz had three companies that paid occupation taxes to Columbia County. Those companies started in Richmond County, and moved here about three years ago before local governments had access to a federal verification system. Now in place, that system likely would have caught them, but they were arrested first.

That system’s existence already is a deterrent, Harmon says; some applicants, when told they’ll have to prove citizenship, simply turn and walk out.

I asked Sheriff Clay Whittle – the man who pushed for the federal investigation of Hugo and Blanca – if Columbia County government could have done anything differently to prevent the Diaz enterprise.

His answer: No.

So, other than the lying illegals, who is at fault? Mostly the feds, for failing to keep our borders secure while fighting state and local efforts to enforce immigration law. That’s a given.

But a huge chunk of the blame goes to legal, licensed builders who sold out the birthright of their own citizenship by using cheap, illegal laborers in an effort to make a few more bucks.For them, Harmon said, the Diaz case means “the price of construction went up.”


(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)

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Comments (9)


Blame Game

There is a lot of blame to go around on this...I suppose. Columbia County for sure shares the lion's share. We are growing, how dare us! Therefore we attract builders, contractors and sub-contractors. Lots of them. And with that comes competition. And unfortunately with that comes somebody trying to game the system to get an unfair advantage. We could stop growing and stop this nonsense...never mind.

And once again Clay Whittle and crew come through, with flying colors.

Just one other thing. Any possibility we could keep the loot in the county? Could provide a lot of bonus revenue and it would be better spent here than going to the feds.

Barry Paschal

Good call there, blues550

If I'm not mistaken, the law requires the feds to split seizures with local authorities. I'm guessing we'll hear how much after they finish the criminal portion and move on to civil.


What I Find to be Incredible

The Sheriff's Office can't simply drive up to a job site and ask to see papers for the workers...right? If I have a good idea illegals are working some job and report it to county law enforcement, they are still not allowed to do anything? If what I said is true, we'll never win this battle. If the Feds had chosen not to get involved with this case things would have continued as they were. I suspect little has changed.

Barry Paschal

Absolutely correct

You're correct, RM. Local law enforcement has no authority in that regard. They can only check the immigration status of someone suspected of committing another crime, and even then, ICE doesn't much care unless they have whole lot of them.

Clay Whittle was exceptionally frustrated with that, and was getting constant complaints from people about all the possible illegals. He went to ICE and they shrugged. He went to the FBI and told them what he believed Diaz was doing, right out in the open, and they got interested - not because of immigration, but because of the fraud.

There's WAY more coming on this, but it will be a while before we hear about it.


Half is OK

Half is OK, because there is going to be a hefty amount!

Little Lamb

Doom Coming

Reading what Barry said about ICE and FBI, I can predict that Eric Holder will be putting out orders for the FBI to fall in line with ICE in the future. The Diaz case may be the last one of its kind.


Why do builders get off so easy?

The final paragraph is most telling. I wish you had expounded on this, Barry. I mean the almighty builders, who seem to be the cornerstone of the county and can never do wrong are really the root cause of this! Why do they get off scot-free? They know when they are hiring illegals, and should be punished for it!


Barry Paschal

Question for swimmer3

What should they be punished for? It's not illegal to hire a subcontractor who uses illegal laborers. That's how Diaz was able to work. The illegals weren't going to complain that he wasn't paying their workman's comp or unemployment.

What the builders were doing is morally wrong, but it isn't illegal.


Illegal aliens, E-verify & voting it into law.

As the presidential race is most probably the most important race in decades, the consequences are so high, specifically in close races. Those GOP (TEA PARTY) candidates Matt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich for president need to enlighten with statements, about the very urgent need for proof of citizenship, when voting. You may have already seen the chaos with nationwide immeasurable ID thefts, which cause aggressive action by financial institutions and sometimes years of anguish by victims. Yet the do nothings in Washington do nothing to end this epidemic. Until discovered later in life, children of citizens find they now have a complex predicament in sorting out a credit mess, after their Social security number was stolen. Yet Washington does nothing. It is way past time that like many European countries a national picture ID was issued to every citizen, with biometric information. But until an elitist Republican or Democratic leaders has their credit compromised, the theft will continue and no laws to stop non-citizens from voting will be passed?

All 50 States have been trying desperately to save their legal population into forfeiting dollars for illegal alien welfare, but they have received an extreme bombardment for decades, instigated by Liberal media, religion, unions, special interests and radical minority groups, that insist we pay for their settling here. This will not occur under TEA PARTY legislation and in fact they will pass bills, as the mandatory E-Verify “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT” (H.R.2885) Placing federal enforcement obstacles to halt illegal workers being hired, the “BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP ACT” (H.R.140) to right a wrong by adjustment to our law, that says no child gains instant citizenship if neither parent is a U.S. citizen and owes allegiance to a foreign country. Soon as (H.R.2885) is enacted self-deportation or ATTRITION THROUGH ENFORCEMENT will commence as with jobs unavailable, they will leave. “Foothold Babies’ which goes by another name is the most expensive outlay of dollars, cemented by our judicial system that is crippling this homeland’s economy.

This has been a huge mockery of our laws, as 300 thousand females annually will purposely cross our border or enter as a tourist from another country, to have her unborn here free of charge and then apply for a green card. Then If you are not versed in the “The Legal Workforce Act” which directly affects millions of citizens-residents jobs or the “Birthright Citizenship Act” that will finally contain billions of dollars of your tax-money and not spread to nationals. Google NUMBERSUSA for much in depth portrayal of this issue and then report this fiasco to your important federal or state lawmaker and demand they pass these laws. IN COMING ELECTIONS DETERMINE WHICH DEMENTED POLITICAL ARROGANT PERSONA’S SHOULD BE DISCARDED BEFORE THEY GIVE YOUR COUNTRY AWAY. These laws above-mentioned are not state laws, but to be introduced into Congress if voters demand it from their representatives; it might just save their jobs?

Bring the troops home from Afghanistan and deploy them along the border permanently. These warriors are not treated with any respect in this savage land, and in ten years nothing seems to have changed much. Women are still treated as chattel and must walk around in those black ugly robes. The U.S, military will be welcomed along our undermanned borders and arm them to illustrate that Americans will no longer be intimidated by the drug cartels and other criminals. Instead of Eric Holders Department of Justice suing Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Utah, South Carolina, Indiana, why not show that the oath of Allegiance to the Constitution and build the real fence, and other senior officials assist ICE in carry out their jobs of deportation for every illegal immigrant and show your patriotism. States that refuse to dismantle Sanctuary City ordinances should be held accountable and principle authors should be arrested, as with Mayors and other officials granting drivers licenses to foreign nationals as it attracts even more invaders.

The Liberal Vendetta has surpassed the rationality of blaming the Constitutionalists. Far from it; we need pinnacle engineers, scientists and highly skilled professional in computer technology. What is not wanted is unfettered poverty that seems we are getting more of every day? The top classes of potential immigrants already have been sponsored by companies waiting for them, and its ascertained they are unlikely to be paying a visit to the welfare offices? Guest Workers for the farming industry should be well regulated and only on a temporary basis, with no path to citizenship. Anybody caught illegally in this nation, should face a felony charge and not a civil misdemeanor. Annually the cost for this paramount immigration issue has climbed to a hundred billion and still rising.

If you really want the facts about the illegal alien incursion and many other problem that cause Americans unnecessary pain and suffering, then you need to view the uncensored pages, not suppressed by the Leftist media at (Google) AMERICAN PATROL. For information about the dishonesty in Washington and state congressional seats of power, check the web pages of the (Google) JUDICIAL WATCH.