Thursday, May 29, 2008

Iowa Company That was Raided By ICE in Largest Raid Ever has state lower saftey fines.

Since Agriprocessors had a large number of their employees arrested, criminally prosecuted, and deported under stipulated removal, I am not sure the state of Iowa is doing them any favors. This company and the town it is located in are likely to disappear.


State reduces safety fines against Agriprocessors

By DAVID PITT | AP Business Writer

1:39 PM CDT, May 29, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa - State occupational safety regulators have reduced fines against Agriprocessors Inc. for numerous safety and health violations.

The Iowa Division of Labor Services fined the Postville company $182,000 in March for 39 violations of work place safety rules.

After company officials agreed to correct violations on Tuesday, the fines were reduced to $42,750, said Kerry Koonce, a spokeswoman for Iowa Workforce Development, which includes the Labor Services Division.

Koonce said Thursday that the fine reduction followed a routine process in which a company is allowed to respond to the violations found by inspectors and then allowed meet with inspectors to explain how it responded to fix the problems. That process concluded on Tuesday, and the agency ordered the fines reduced, Koonce said.



Some of the more serious violations found during inspections between October 2007 and February 2008 were:

--Improper storage and use of hazardous chemicals.

--Improper labeling of emergency exits and alarms that couldn't be heard by some employees.

--Failure to develop emergency response plans.

--Improper programs for use of respirators and for the use of blood-borne pathogens.

The enforcement action against the company for the safety violations was one of the largest against a single Iowa company in the number of violations and the level of the initial fine assessed, Koonce said.

"This is one of the largest ones that has ever happened," she said. "It was very big."

In addition, Koonce said an investigation into allegations that the plant employed minors has resumed.

The investigation into child labor law violations was under way before a May 12 raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that resulted in the arrest of nearly 400 people. The inquiry was halted when federal agents took the company's employment records.

"It's in process again but it will take a little bit of time because the feds have some of the records," Koonce said Thursday.

The investigation, which is being conducted with help from the federal government, includes reviewing wage records and interviewing workers.

If founded, the company could be prosecuted on state misdemeanor charges. The law says a prosecutor may bring one count for each day each underage child works. Each offense is a $60 fine, Koonce said.

The plant, owned by Aaron Rubashkin of New York , is the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant.

The U.S. attorney's office said 302 workers from the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant were charged with federal crimes after the Immigration raid. Of those, 297 pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison time or probation.

The remaining five have cases pending in federal court.

Charges include use of false identification documents and false use of Social Security numbers.

Initially, 389 workers were taken in the raid. Charges against six workers were dismissed because they were juveniles.

U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth said the operation was the largest single-site Immigration raid in U.S.

Last week, Rubashkin released a statement saying the company was seeking a new chief executive officer for the plant, which has been led by his son Sholom Rubashkin.

Reno ICE Fugitive Ops Activity

ICE Fugitive Operations Team Finds 1 individual with a prior deportation order. The ICE Fugitive Ops Teams are separate from ICE Office of Investigations, which is responsible for worksite raids and criminal investigations.


1 arrested in Reno-area immigration sweep

The Associated Press

Thu, May 29, 2008 (7:32 a.m.)


One man is under arrested and facing deportation following a sweep in the Reno area by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Officials say the enforcement action targeted fugitive aliens already under deportation orders who have criminal records in the United States.

Jose D. Mejia, 43, was arrested Wednesday at a Sparks apartment complex.

Immigration officers say Mejia was under a final deportation order issued in September and probably will be deported to El Salvador.

___

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Millionaire Posts Bond for Workers Arrested in Worksite Raids

We need more individuals like this!


Multimillionaire Helps Undocumented Workers Post Bail

New America Media, News Report, Wendy Sefsaf, Posted: May 23, 2008

Editor's Note: Robert Hildreth is a multimillionaire immigration advocate who has helped bail out undocumented immigrants who have been arrested in ICE raids. Now he wants to create a national fund for the purpose. NAM contributor Wendy Sefsaf reports from Washington, D.C.


WASHINGTON -- Robert Hildreth, a self-made multimillionaire who built his fortune trading in Latin American bonds, wants to create a national fund that would help post bail for undocumented workers seized by immigration authorities.

Hildreth began posting bail out of his own pocket after seeing what he considered to be "un-American" images on TV of shackled workers being deported. Hildreth , the son of high school teachers, called the Greater Boston Legal Services and told them to contact him if they needed help posting bonds for undocumented workers.

After doing this a few times, in a few different states, Hildreth decided his program should go national. His idea is to create a non-profit bond fund that would match 50 percent of bail funds in most cases, and provide 100 percent bail only in extreme cases. Advocates say this is crucial for workers who are coerced into signing deportation orders before talking to a lawyer or having their day in court. Helping them post bond enables them to get out of detention, contact a lawyer and regroup with their families.

By matching the funds, Hildreth is helping legal service groups and others get the ball rolling. But having the other half matched by the families themselves, Hildreth says, forces them to have a stake in the outcome and makes an individual less likely to “jump bail.”

“Immigrants are the greatest savers in this country. If I put up half of the funds, the families can usually come up with the rest,” Hildreth observes. “For example, I paid $130,000 to bail out the immigrants rounded up in the New Bedford raids -- and within three weeks they came up with $130,000 of their own. I know the money is there and there is an extended family structure that is able to pool the necessary funds.”

He also thinks that his approach appeals to our innate love of a bargain. “Everybody loves a deal,” Hildreth says. “If I went into Best Buy and shouted, 'I will pay for half of everything you buy,' that store would be cleared out in no time.”

Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles affirms the need for a bond fund. “This is about poor people having their day in court,” she says. “People have to understand that these workers are not appointed lawyers, not read their Miranda rights. They are swept up, usually taken to another state, interrogated and then later told they can hire a lawyer if they can find one.” She adds, “What Bob Hildreth has done is an amazing example of what people of conscience need to do in these horrible times; he is giving people their liberty and a reason to hope.”

The national bond fund has more than $150,000 in pledges so far from previous bonds that have been returned to Hildreth with interest. These funds will be used to post future bonds and he is now hoping to build a significant fund. “When you pay for a bond, it is not a contribution. You get your money back with interest which returns back to the fund for the next person who needs it.” So far, no one helped by Hildreth has jumped bail.

Setting up a bond fund is not a new concept. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund provided bail money and legal assistance for civil rights demonstrators throughout the 1960s, including during the 1961 freedom rides led by the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Hildreth also sees the bail money as a lifeline. “We have families whose loved ones were arrested in Massachusetts and then sent to detention centers in Texas. The communication is cut off," he explains. "What we are finding in raids is that people don’t know their rights. They are forgoing their due process in the first 48 hours out of fear, and agree to be deported without having consulted an attorney. It would be wonderful if the word caught like wild fire that immigrants do have rights and furthermore you might find some help from me.”

He thinks of immigration much like an economist would. “In America we should always be finding ways to match immigrant money,” he says. “Their propensity is to save. Immigrants sent home $60 billion last year in the form of remittances. My feeling is that we have a group of immigrants floating on a sea of money, how can we get them to invest more of it here?”

He has tried creative ways to do just that even before his recent foray into immigrant rights, by supporting immigrant education initiatives. “This summer, 15 of the brightest Hispanic high school sophomores in Lynn, Massachusetts will be creating educational accounts. They will put up $250 and I will put up $500 and we will build up from there.” Why do we need to match their funds? “Because otherwise there is such a pull from Latin America to send every extra dollar down there. We know the highest drops outs are Hispanics, so creating these accounts early is going to get them going to college.”

One might wonder why a descendant of Irish immigrants and Puritans who settled in Boston more than three centuries ago worries about immigrants coming to America today. “I am very pro-immigrant and it comes more from an American ideal than from being a Mother Theresa type. I think immigration is the only model America has ever known. We have never known a day, a minute, where we haven’t accepted immigrants. They provide huge economic benefits to us. The 12 million undocumented workers in this country spend billions of dollars every year in supermarkets, on rent and in taxes, etc. I have no idea what it would be like to yank them out by the root, and I wouldn’t want to take that risk.”

However, the economist also has a philosophical bent on what it means to be an American. “I have a different view of what makes up the border of the U.S. It’s not dirt but ideas. So if you have a native-born American who hates capitalism or freedom of people to move and find work, I think that is less 'American' than the guys born in Latin American who have taken on our American ideals hook, line and sinker.”

Aside from running his financial company and planning the bond fund, Hildreth is busy calling the supermarkets that allegedly benefit from undocumented workers in the Boston area. He is asking them to support a local immigration group that is holding their annual gala and contacting other groups in Iowa that are working with immigrants recently detained during a raid at a meat-packing plant. “I want them to know there is help here, if they need it,” says Hildreth.

Federal Govt. Going Past Employers to Charge Landlords for Harboring Illegal Immigrants Charges!

The Federal government has in its arsenal charging employers with federal harboring illegal immigrants criminal charges. The Federal Govt. now is stretching this to charge landlords. Employers that house or help their employees with housing should be very careful!

See:

May 24, 2008,

Immigration case puts focus on landlords

It's the first time feds have tried to prosecute property owners for renting to illegal residents


By BRANDON ORTIZ
Mcclatchy-tribune


LEXINGTON, KY. — Four illegal immigrants who rented from Lexington landlords have testified they showed only Mexican identification when they applied for apartments.

The immigrants, who are to be deported, testified in depositions that they did not present American driver's licenses or Social Security cards. One, Adnan Ramirez-Jimenez, even showed a Mexican voter registration card, indicating Mexican citizenship, and a manager wrote on his rental application, "first time in USA."

Ramirez-Jimenez testified that he did not show apartment management at Cross Keys Apartments any proof he was in the country legally.

The depositions were filed in U.S. District Court in Lexington in the criminal case against William Jerry Hadden, 69, and his son Jamey, who are charged with 24 counts of harboring illegal immigrants and 24 counts of encouraging illegal immigrants to remain in the country.

The case appears to be the first time the federal government has tried to prosecute landlords for renting to illegal immigrants, defense attorneys say.

The testimony could bolster the government's contention that the Haddens knew 60 tenants were in the country illegally yet rented to them anyway. Whether that's enough to win a conviction for harboring remains to be seen.

The immigrants were deposed so they would not have to remain in jail until the June 23 trial. A fifth witness was called to testify, but he refused to answer in the deposition.

Harboring laws
The Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union, immigration activists and Jerry Hadden's attorneys have contended that the federal government is stretching the intent of the law.

They say harboring laws were intended to target human traffickers or employers who are trying to hide their work forces. They note it is not illegal to rent to illegal immigrants. The Haddens had no legal obligation to check any tenant's immigration status. And laws passed in other cities prohibiting landlords from renting to illegal immigrants have been challenged in court.

The case could have wide-ranging implications, said Josh Santana, president of the Lexington Hispanic Association. If the government wins a conviction, landlords will be less willing to rent to Hispanics, even those with legal status, he said.

"There are sometimes problems for people of color; we don't need to give excuses to people who are predisposed to not rent to them," Santana said.

Lawyer Tucker Richardson, who represents Jerry Hadden, declined to comment. But his law partner, Russ Baldani, wrote in court papers that the government is pushing a ridiculous interpretation of the law.

Jamey Hadden, who lives in Vietnam, has not been served with the indictment, court records indicate.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Temporary Worker Visa Procedures to Cut Bureaucracy

With restaurants and resorts facing summer staff shortages, the Bush administration will announce federal regulations today to streamline the way foreign workers enter the country for seasonal jobs.

The Department of Labor is rewriting rules to help employers find and hire workers for temporary jobs as landscapers, waitresses and crab pickers more quickly and efficiently than current guidelines allow.

In one major change affecting industries such as construction and shipyards, the definition of "temporary" will be drastically expanded -- from the current 10 months to three years.

Adjusting the so-called H2B visa program is part of an ongoing administration effort to reconfigure immigration laws on a piecemeal basis in the absence of a comprehensive overhaul.

For the full story, click here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Social Security Administration No‑Match Program: Inefficient, Ineffective, and Costly

The failure of congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and the Bush administration’s subsequent stepping up of immigration enforcement, have resulted in deficient policies that do not address the issue of unauthorized immigration, but do cause extreme hardship to U.S. workers, businesses, communities, and the economy. Soon after the 2007 Bush Administration backed immigration-reform bill failed in the U.S. Senate, the Administration redirected its efforts with respect to unauthorized immigration into more vigorous enforcement along the border and in the workplace. Eager to demonstrate they could be tough, the Administration dusted off a proposed regulation, which had first been made public about a year earlier, to use Social Security administration (SSA) “no-match” letters as a tool for identifying unauthorized workers. Final regulations were issued in august 2007, but were subsequently enjoined by a Federal Judge who found that they would “result in irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers.”

For the complete report, click here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

USCIS Announces Enhancements to E-Verify Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today improvements to the E-Verify employment authorization program that will reduce an already low mismatch rate, while also streamlining and increasing the effectiveness of the overall program.
Today’s announcement comprises the first two phases of an overall three-part enhancement for
E-Verify aimed at decreasing the mismatch rate for naturalized citizens.

“Less than one percent of all work-authorized employees receive a tentative nonconfirmation through E-Verify,” said USCIS Acting Director Jonathan Scharfen. “While this is a very small percentage, we believe every employee who is authorized to work in the United States should be instantly authorized by the program. We’re confident that the enhancements we’re launching today will help us achieve that goal.”

For the full news release, click here.

E-Verify and Arizona: Early Experiences for Employers, Employees, and the Economy Portend a Rough Road Ahead

On July 7, 2007, Arizona passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which requires all employers in the state to enroll in and use the E-Verify system to verify the employment eligibility of all new hires. The law also creates penalties—including suspension or revocation of business licenses—for employers who “knowingly” or “intentionally” hire unauthorized immigrant workers. The law went into effect on January 1, 2008.

Some have claimed that E-Verify is working well in Arizona—that employers are signing up for the program and not experiencing any problems with the system. However, multiple reports point to the opposite conclusion. E-Verify is not yet fully implemented in Arizona and already there are significant signs of trouble. Before other state and federal lawmakers jump on the bandwagon and blithely seek expansion of E-Verify, they should heed the warning signs that the program is not ready for roll-out. Read below about the experiences of Arizona’s employers and employees with E-Verify, and early signals of its impact on the state’s economy.

For the full press release, click here.

On the Eve of an EEVS Hearing: What Should We Be Listening For?

House Hearing on Electronic Employment Verification Systems Poised to Ask the Tough Questions

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on electronic employment verification systems (EEVS) -- Washington’s latest magic potion for dealing with the nation’s broken immigration system. Several bills, including the Shuler-Tancredo "SAVE Act" (HR 4088) and the Johnson "New Employee Verification Act of 2008" (HR 5515), would create a nationwide mandatory EEVS that would require all American workers, foreign- and native-born alike, to get the government’s stamp of approval in order to work. Scores of organizations, including most recently the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), have asked that these proposals be slowed or shelved out of concern for their impact on Americans. As more hearings are expected in the coming weeks in other committees, including Homeland Security and Judiciary, what questions should the American public want to hear be thoroughly asked and answered?

EEVS’ Price Tag: EEVS is expensive, and coupled with its reliability weaknesses, the problems outweigh the perceived benefits. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the SAVE Act would decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion from 2009-2018 because it would result in an increase in the number of people working in the underground cash economy, outside the tax system. At the same time, it would increase spending by over $23 billion, resulting in a whopping price tag of over $40 billion over the next 10 years. CBO also estimated that SAVE would cost U.S. employers over $136 million to comply in at least one of the first five years the mandates are in effect.

For the full press release, click here.