Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fallout from immigration raid on Swift company.

Immigration: Good going ICE! Remember Swift was part of this story from Cactus, Texas where the mayor basically had his own city-state. Michelle Malkin has the reaction from the raid as Swift employees were under investigation for identity theft and false SS numbers among other criminal charges. Captain Ed also has some thoughts on the raid.

A federal investigation that ended Tuesday in a raid on six meatpacking plants has uncovered criminal groups around the country that steal real birth certificates, Social Security cards and other documents and sell them to illegal workers, federal officials said. One fraud ring mailed dozens of Puerto Rican birth certificates to a Worthington, Minn., man who resold them for as much as $1,000 to illegal workers as part of a set of identity documents. Some of the sets were bought by workers at the meatpacking plants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Marc Raimondi said. In its largest workplace raid ever, ICE agents on Tuesday arrested 1,282 workers at Swift & Co. meat-packing plants in Worthington, Minn., Greeley, Colo., Cactus, Texas, Grand Island, Neb., Marshalltown, Iowa and Hyrum, Utah. Workers were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Laos, Sudan and other countries, Raimondi said. Illegal workers have traditionally forged documents and invented social security numbers, ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers said. "The investigation uncovered substantial evidence that hundreds of illegal aliens working at Swift had apparently stolen the identities of U.S. citizens," Myers said. "The illegal aliens had obtained these documents from a variety of document rings and vendors."
Swift whines the system is not good enough.
WASHINGTON — The federal raids on six Swift meatpacking plants point out the difficulty employers have in determining who is or is not a legal worker. Concerns are particularly acute in such industries as construction, agriculture and meatpacking, which depend on a large number of immigrant workers to fill physically taxing or dangerous jobs. "This enforcement, going out and targeting company by company, or sector by sector, is having a real strain on business," says Robert Guenther, senior vice president for United Fresh Produce, a coalition of growers, shippers and retailers. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers temporarily closed Swift operations Tuesday and arrested more than 1,200 people, saying they suspected hundreds of employees had obtained jobs using stolen Social Security numbers or other forms of identification. About 65 now face criminal charges. Swift CEO Sam Rovit, in a statement decrying the raids, noted that his firm was using a federal program under which employee identity documents were checked against a database. It is one of a small number of firms using the system.
The system should be better so companies can't fall on this excuse to say they did not know who was legal or not. Some...question the timing.
"The timing of things happening, they make it more sad -- you know, Christmas coming. It's unbelievable," Gonzalez said.
Greenley Tribune:
In one of the largest federal roundups in the state since the immigration frenzy swept the country, several hundred worried residents protested outside Swift & Co. beef packing plant, angry at officials for their insensitive timing of the raid. "This is an insult to us as Mexicans because today is El Dia de la Vigen de Guadalupe," said Lupe Tapia of Greeley, in reference to Dec. 12, which is celebrated as a religious holiday recognizing the birth of the virgin Mary. "They are acting like (the undocumented workers) are terrorists but they are just coming here to work."
Checking out the Tribune, good coverage of the events from the raid on the plant there. Comments from Colorado lawmakers. We can't have something like this without comparing it to 9/11!
Marsalltown, Ia. --- The mood was somber and agitated among Mexican students who streamed into Marshalltown High School this morning. They remembered Tuesday as clusters of students cried in the halls and in class, hearing that family and friends had been arrested. They more acutely noticed police cars roaming school grounds today. And some wondered aloud if authorities could show up and arrest them. Watching busloads of family and friends being arrested will be a watershed moment in their lives. “When 9/11 came along, everyone remembered it,” said Isis Diaz, 14, and a freshman. “I think everyone will remember this.”
Swift ignorance of not knowing who is legal or not illegal rings false since they fired 400 people at one plant before the raids.
In recent months, ICE agents have arrested members of document rings in Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Puerto Rico. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said federal agents continue to investigate fraud rings tied to Tuesday's arrests. More than 400 former Swift workers thought to be in the USA illegally are missing. In October and November, Swift interviewed 450 employees it suspected were working illegally and found 90% to 95% did not have proper documents, but Swift did not notify ICE, the court documents say. More than 400 workers were fired or failed to show up. "Neither Swift nor ICE knows where those 400 workers are now," U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson wrote in a court ruling on Dec. 7. Agents were tipped to the fraud ring in February while in Marshalltown interviewing workers who had admitted assuming fake identities, Myers said. ICE agents in July reviewed employment eligibility forms for 1,157 workers at the Swift plant in Hyrum. They found 300 people — 26% of the Swift workforce — had suspect identities.

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