The Chandler City Council delayed awarding a $75,000 contract Thursday to a landscape company that was raided Wednesday on allegations of hiring illegal immigrants.
The council was preparing to rubber-stamp the contract with Artistic Land Management, who already had five contracts with the city totaling $1.4 million this fiscal year, but the city's staff recommended at the council meeting to continue the item until Sept. 25.
Wednesday's raid, in which 29 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested, raised questions for council members.
"The first question that comes to my mind is, will they have the people power to deliver on the contract?" Councilman Bob Caccamo said.
Councilman Matt Orlando said he has the same question, "illegal immigration aside."
Maricopa County sheriff's officers raided two Mesa sites after receiving a tip that the business was knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
According to a sheriff's office news release, 69 of the 127 employees have discrepancies in their employment documents consistent with identity theft.
Deputies seized personnel files, time cards, employee rosters and work assignments to determine if the company violated the state's employer sanctions law.
The law, which took effect Jan.1, allows a judge to suspend all state licenses of any firm found to have knowingly hired an undocumented worker, and a second violation within three years results in license revocation.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said much of the work in the investigation is yet to come.
The contract called for Artistic Land Management to provide plants to replace damaged and dead ones on city property such as traffic medians, right-of-ways and subsidized housing complexes. The contract would be for one year with the option to renew for four additional one-year periods.
The company had contracts totaling more than $2 million the previous two years.
Jose Hernandez, the company's owner, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.