ICE arrests supervisors at Iowa meat plant

On July 3, ICE arrested supervisors Juan Carlos Guerrero Espinoza and Martin De la Rosa Loera at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant owned by Aaron Rubashkin in Postville, Iowa. Federal prosecutors said they had also issued an arrest warrant for Hosam Amara, described by workers as a plant manager.

In interviews following the May 12 raid, several workers had said Amara was a floor manager with more authority than line supervisors. The arrests came some six weeks after a May 12 raid in which ICE arrested 389 rank-and-file workers at the plant—a majority of them Guatemalans—and forced most of them to accept five-month prison sentences in plea bargains on criminal charges for presenting false identification to get hired. (See INB , June 2)

In a federal criminal complaint unsealed on July 3, workers cited anonymously said Guerrero was running a business obtaining fraudulent immigration documents. According to the complaint, the workers said that in the days before the raid, Guerrero told them in a meeting that “they needed new IDs and Social Security numbers to continue working at the company.” Guerrero collected $200 and a photograph from each worker, promising to provide new documents, the complaint says.

“The arrest of two low-level supervisors, while a start, barely scratches the surface of this company’s bad behavior,” said Scott Frotman, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), which has tried to organize the plant. “What about the allegations of worker abuse? Does anyone really believe that these low-level supervisors acted alone without the knowledge, or even the direction, of the Rubashkins and other senior management?” (New York Times, July 4)

Residents of Postville, still shell-shocked from the May 12 raid, were frightened by the June 23 appearance in Postville of two plainclothes ICE agents who arrested a single undocumented immigrant, Eduardo Ixen. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts confirmed that Ixen, a handyman who worked with real-estate firm GAL Investments, was detained based on a tip. Counts said Ixen was likely not among the Agriprocessors workers named in the affidavit associated with the case. (New America Media, June 26; Des Moines Register, June 23)

…and at Houston clothing company
On July 2, ICE agents arrested the owner and four supervisors at Action Rags USA, a Houston, Texas used clothing and rag company where the agency had arrested 166 workers on June 25. (See INB, June 29). Following the arrests, federal charges were unsealed against the five for conspiracy to harbor unauthorized immigrants, inducing unauthorized immigrants to come into the US, and illegal hiring practices including knowingly accepting false work documents. The five people arrested are Action Rags USA owner Mabarik Kahlon; his partner and uncle, Rasheed Ahmed; manager Cirila Barron; resource manager Valerie Rodriguez; and warehouse supervisor Mayra Herrera-Gutierrez. Ahmed, who has health problems, was freed on his own recognizance; the others were held in federal custody until their initial hearing the next day in Houston federal court. (Houston Chronicle, June 2; ABC 13 KTRK, June 3 from AP)

On July 3, Magistrate Judge Calvin Botley ordered the release of Kahlon, Ahmed and Rodriguez after they each posted $50,000 bond. ICE filed immigration detainers against Barron and Herrera-Gutierrez, making them ineligible for bail; both are Mexican nationals who are allegedly present in the US without permission. (Houston Chronicle, June 3)

From Immigration News Briefs, July 5

See our last post on the politics of immigration.