Aliens ar­rested in ICE raid of plants; ‘dis­turb­ing’ doc­u­ment trend found

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

U.S.Im­mi­gra­tio­nandCus­tom­sEn­force­men­t­a­gentswhoswept­through meat-pro­cess­ing plants in six states ear­ly­onDec.12ar­rest­ed­nearly1,300 il­le­gal aliens as part of an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a mas­sive iden­ti­tytheft con­spir­acy.

The ar­rests cul­mi­nated a 10month ICE in­ves­ti­ga­tion known as “Op­er­a­tion Wagon Train” that tar­geted work­ers at Swift & Co. plants in Colorado, Ne­braska, Texas, Utah, IowaandMin­nesota.Thosear­rested in­cluded il­le­gal aliens from Mex­ico, Gu­atemala, Hon­duras, El Sal­vador, Peru, Laos, Su­dan and Ethiopia.

“Op­er­a­tion Wagon Train is an out­growth of ICE’s cur­rent work­site en­force­ment strat­egy, a com­pre­hen­sive approach that fo­cuses on how il­le­gal aliens get to our coun­try, the ways in which they ob­tain iden­tity doc­u­ments al­low­ing them to be­come em­ployed, and the em­ploy­ers who know­ingly hire them,” Home­land Se­cu­rity As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Julie L. My­ers, who heads ICE, said at a press con­fer­ence on Dec. 13.

“Theuse­of­fraud­u­lent­doc­u­ments by­il­le­galaliensseekingem­ploy­ment has been a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem,” she said. “In re­cent years, how­ever, this fraud has evolved into a dis­turb­ing newtrend.Now,in­stead­o­fob­tain­ing fraud­u­lent doc­u­ments with fraud­u­lent iden­ti­ties, il­le­gal aliens are buy­inggen­uine­doc­u­ments”usingi­den­ti­ties of un­wit­ting U.S. cit­i­zens.

Mrs.My­ers­saidICEin­ves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered in Fe­bru­ary that Swift work­ers had as­sumed the iden­ti­ties ofother­sto­cir­cum­ven­tem­ploy­ment- el­i­gi­bil­ity screen­ing and un­cov­ered ev­i­dence that hun­dreds of il­le­gal aliens used stolen So­cial Se­cu­rity cards and other iden­tity doc­u­ments to gain em­ploy­ment.

The il­le­gals, she said, ob­tained the­do­c­u­ments­fro­mava­ri­ety­of­doc­u­ment rings and ven­dors. She de­scribed iden­tity theft as the largest and­fastest-grow­ingcrimeintheU.S.

Swift, which sought in an un­suc­cess­ful law­suit to stop the raids, has not­been­charged.The­com­pa­nyem­ploys 15,000 work­ers, is the na­tion’s third-largest beef pro­ducer and ar­guedthattheraidswould­cause“sub­stan­tia­landirrepara­blein­jury”toits busi­ness. The suit was filed af­ter ICE in­formed Swift that the agency in­tended to re­move il­le­gal aliens on Dec. 4.

The com­pany, with $9 bil­lion in sales last year, told the court that in­ter­views it con­ducted with “sus­pect work­ers”pri­or­totheraids­foundthat be­tween 90 per­cent and 95 per­cent were ei­ther not who their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments said or were not legally el­i­gi­ble for em­ploy­ment. It said 400 were ter­mi­nated, quit or failed to show up.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Michael Chertoff, who at­tended the press con­fer­ence, said “il­le­gal doc­u­ments are not only used by il­le­gal mi­grants, but they are used by ter­ror­ists who want to get on air­planes or­crim­i­nal­swhowant­to­prey­onour cit­i­zens.”

Of the 1,282 work­ers ar­rested on ad­min­is­tra­tive im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions, 65 also were charged with iden­tity theft-re­lated charges or other crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing il­le­gally re-en­ter­ing the U.S. af­ter hav­ing been de­ported. They are be­ing pro­cessed at lo­ca­tions around the coun­try for re­moval pro­ceed­ings.

Thosecharged­with­fed­er­al­crim- inal vi­o­la­tions will be re­manded to the­cus­tody­oftheU.S.Mar­shal­sSer­vice pend­ing their crim­i­nal court pro­ceed­ings be­fore a fed­eral judge.

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