In a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on Thursday, over a dozen people were arrested for hiring illegal immigrants for cheap labor.
Warrants were obtained for 11 of the businesses in Minnesota, Nebraska and Nevada, according to the Washington Times.
133 illegal immigrant workers were detained in the findings as well.
According to Kare 11 News, ICE agents carried out their search warrants on Christensen Farms locations in Appleton and Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, as well as in Atkinson, Nebraska. Several other Nebraska farms were also raided.
Minneapolis’ Star Tribune reports that “Christensen Farms is one of the largest pork producers in the country, with nearly 1,000 employees and firms in several Midwest states.”
ICE also reported that “they may also have been exploited as part of this alleged criminal conspiracy.”
More specifically, they predict that the illegal immigrant workers were coerced into working in rough conditions by force and by threat of being reported.
In addition, the migrants had to cash in their paychecks at a remittance business, where taxes were removed but not given to the government.
“These illegal aliens were allegedly required to cash their paychecks at an illegal remittance business for a fee, have tax money deducted from their pay even though this money was never paid to the government and were coerced to remain quiet about this criminal activity,” an ICE news release said.
“These targeted businesses were knowingly hiring illegal workers to unlawfully line their own pockets by cheating the workers, cheating the taxpayers, and cheating their business competitors,” Tracy J. Cormier, special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations in St. Paul, Minnesota, said.
Seventeen of these people were identified as the ring leaders. Arrests haven’t been made on a handful of them.
ICE reported that this raid was a part of a 15-month investigation of the companies who were accused of hiring immigrants illegally.
Those who were arrested have been placed in custody until their cases are processed.
Of the 133 illegal immigrant workers, some will remain in detention, but some will be released with a future court date.
This is with the hope that they will be deported when their case is finished.
One activist from the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, Brad Sigal, found the raid cruel.
“You can’t just look at the Trump presidency and see this as an isolated case — that suddenly he cares about the rights of workers,” he said. “This is just one more attack on the workers, whose lives are going to be dramatically worsened by this.”
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