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Postville Raid stories - 08

Postville Raid stories - 08 - Claims of ID fraud lead to...

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Claims of ID fraud lead to largest raid in state history – From the DesMoines Register BY NIGEL DUARA, WILLIAM PETROSKI AND GRANT SCHULTE • REGISTER STAFF WRITERS • MAY 12, 2008 http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080512/NEWS/80512012/1001 Postville, Ia. - The largest workplace raid in Iowa history Monday resulted in the arrest of more than 300 people and reignited the debate over immigration. As two law enforcement helicopters hovered overhead, dozens of federal agents descended on Agriprocessors Inc., the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse. The 300 people arrested represent almost one-third of the plant's 968 workers, and federal officials said the number of arrests could increase. The number is three times as many as were arrested in a raid 18 months ago at the Swift plant in Marshalltown. Months in planning, Monday's raid involved 16 local, state and federal agencies, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They executed search warrants related to criminal activity, as well as a civil search warrant for people believed to be in the United States illegally. "This is the largest operation of its type ever in Iowa," said Matt M. Dummermuth, U.S. attorney for the Northern District. Protests in Waterloo About 200 protesters on Monday evening filled the sidewalk in front of the gates of the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds, where those arrested were being taken by bus. They chanted "We have rights" and waved signs that said, among other things, "Honk for Human Rights." Father Nils Hernandez of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Cedar Rapids came to Waterloo after he heard about the raid. "This is inhumane," he said. The protesters were faced with a half-dozen people who shouted "Send 'em back," to which the crowd responded, "We have a right to be here, too." Feds allege rampant ID fraud A federal search warrant said immigration officials have filed almost 700 complaints about immigration violations and criminal activity by workers at the Postville plant. The activity spans a two-year period, and some workers face multiple allegations. Federal officials allege that as many as three-fourths of the company's workers at the end of last year were using fraudulent Social Security numbers. Last November, the search warrant said, ICE agents interviewed a former Agriprocessors supervisor who said some employees were running a methamphetamine lab in the plant and were bringing weapons to work. Another source alleged worker abuse, officials said in the warrant. In one case, a supervisor covered the eyes of an employee with duct tape and struck him with a meat hook. The worker, who had entered the country illegally from Guatemala, was not seriously injured. He declined to report the incident for fear of losing his job, the warrant said.
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