On April 20, ICE agents arrested 13 Mexican immigrant workers employed at the Eagle Bag Corporation factory in East Oakland, California. Twelve of the workers were arrested at the factory; one was picked up at a residence. The workers were taken to the ICE office in San Francisco to be interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted; they are being held on administrative immigration violations while ICE continues its investigation to determine whether any will face federal prosecution for aggravated identity theft. (ICE news release, April 20; Insidebayarea.com, April 24)
Seven of the arrested workers had used social security numbers belonging to others in order to obtain their jobs, according to ICE. The raid followed an ICE audit of Eagle Bag’s employment records, which found 47 of the company’s more than 70 employees had submitted counterfeit immigration documents to obtain their jobs, and that 33 of the unauthorized workers were using stolen social security numbers. ICE said Eagle Bag Corporation sought to comply with current hiring laws and is not facing any charges at this time.
The Eagle Bag Corporation makes packaging products for industry, agribusiness and the US government. On its website, the company says it manufactures “polypropylene (P.P.) woven fabric and bags” and is approved by the US Department of Agriculture to supply bags to the US government. The company supplies sand bags to the US military, and bags to the US government for use in food distribution to “Third World” countries. (ICE new release, April 20) Federal contract data analyzed by OMB Watch, a Washington-based nonprofit government watchdog organization, indicates Eagle Bag had $53.1 million in federal contracts from fiscal year 2000 through the first quarter of fiscal year 2006.
ICE Special Agent Jennifer Holman said she wasn’t sure “how we gained the intel on this particular company,” but it’s possible Eagle Bag was targeted for investigation because of its “critical infrastructure” as a military supplier. The arrests didn’t result in any children left without caretakers, said Holman: “We definitely aren’t trying to take people away from their children at this point.” (Insidebayarea.com, April 24)
During the first six months of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2006, ICE apprehended 2,763 unauthorized immigrants in worksite operations. In the previous fiscal year, ICE logged 3,667 worksite apprehensions, a more than three-fold increase compared to fiscal year 2005. So far this fiscal year, criminal charges have been filed against 527 people in worksite operations, compared with 718 for all of fiscal year 2006. (Houston Chronicle, April 23; ICE news release, April 20)
From Immigration News Briefs, April 28
See our last post on the immigration crackdown.