On Oct. 7, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents executed a federal criminal search warrant at the House of Raeford’s Columbia Farms poultry processing plant in Greenville, SC, arresting 11 workers on criminal charges and 320 workers on administrative immigration charges. (ICE news release, Oct. 9) About 100 ICE agents raided the plant during shift change. ICE officials kept the workers inside the plant for most of the morning as they sought to determine how many were present in the US without permission. (AP, Oct. 7; Charlotte Observer, Oct. 8)
Two women and nine men were transferred to the custody of the US Marshals Service to face charges including re-entry after deportation, aggravated identity theft, counterfeit documents and false statements. The other 121 women and 199 men arrested were processed for deportation; 77 women and six men were released with electronic ankle monitors to await removal hearings. The remaining women were taken to the Atlanta City Detention Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The men were taken to the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. The arrested workers are from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Hungary.
Six juveniles—three from Mexico and three from Guatemala—were found to be present in the US without permission. ICE released two youths to an authorized caregiver, and said it was working with the Mexican and Guatemalan consulates to reunite the others with their families in their home countries.
The raid was part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the company’s employment practices which saw prior criminal charges against nine supervisors, four plant employees and one human resources manager. (See INB, Sept. 7.) (ICE news release, Oct. 9)
From Immigration News Briefs, Oct. 21
See our last post on the politics of immigration.