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Immigrant Community in Iowa Devastated by ICE Raid

Over 300 people were arrested in the biggest workplace raid this year.
 
 
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An immigrant community in Iowa was shattered yesterday by a huge ICE raid that appears to still be in progress. Susan Saulny of the New York Times reports:

In the biggest workplace immigration raid this year, federal agents swept into a kosher meat plant on Monday in Postville, Iowa, and arrested more than 300 workers.

The authorities said the workers were suspected of being in the United States illegally or of having participated in identity theft and the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not say how many people had been rounded up beyond the initial 300 or whether the management and owners of the plant, AgriProcessors, would face criminal charges.

The plant has 800 to 900 people and is the country’s largest producer of meat that is glatt kosher, widely regarded as the highest standard of cleanliness.

The plant shut temporarily.

The agents set up a perimeter around the 60-acre plant, in northeastern Iowa, and entered on the morning shift, carrying out two search warrants, federal authorities said. An affidavit filed in court before the raid by the Homeland Security Department cited “the issuance of 697 criminal complaints and arrest warrants against persons believed to be current employees” and to have acted criminally.

The affidavit said a former plant supervisor had told investigators that a methamphetamine laboratory had operated at the plant and that some employees had carried weapons to the plant. The former supervisor, the affidavit said, estimated that 80 percent of the employees were in the United States illegally.

The consequences this disgruntled ex-employee will face if the information he provided turns out to be incomplete or untrue: absolutely none. This is another result of a system where workers have severely limited legal protections. Unhappy co-workers can retaliate completely outside of the established employee discrimination laws. Don’t like the hue of your workplace? Upset that your co-workers are speaking a language you don’t understand and playing norteño on the radio? A quick phone call to ICE can change all of that.

The Des Moines Register has a detailed piece on the raid.

 
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