Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 97 immigrants at a Grainger County, Tennessee meatpacking plant late Thursday in what civil rights organizations are calling the largest single workplace raid in a decade, reports the Washington Post. At least 86 of the immigrants were in the United States illegally.
The Homeland Security Investigations arm of ICE executed a federal criminal search warrant on the Southern Provision meat packing plant in a joint operation with the Internal Revenue Service and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Ten people were arrested on federal criminal charges, one person was arrested on state charges and 86 immigrants were detained for being in the country illegally, Tammy Spicer, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement Friday. All of those arrested were in the country illegally, she said. Most were from Mexico.
The National Immigration Law Center and other immigrant advocates said the Tennessee raid was the largest since the George W. Bush administration and deployed many of the tactics of that era, with a surprise blitz of the factory, a helicopter and streets blocked by state and local authorities. ICE officials would not say where the raid ranked in terms of size. -WaPo
Acting ICE director Tom Homan said last year that the agency planned to "significantly" increase operations targeting businesses which employ illegal immigrants, however he said the department's strategy would be different than those employed under president Obama.
“Now we’re going to prosecute the employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens,” Homan said last year. “We’re going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers.”
Since Trump took office last January, immigration arrests have risen over 40% and deportations are up 34%.
ICE conducted 1,360 employee audits last year and arrested more than 300 people for alleged criminal and civil immigration violations. Businesses were ordered to pay $97.6 million in judicial forfeiture, fines and restitution and $7.8 million in civil fines, the agency said. -WaPo
In January, ICE agents executed surprise pre-dawn raids on around 100 7-eleven stores across the country, administratively arresting 21 people on suspicion of being in the U.S. illegally in a national effort to ensure businesses are hiring employees who are legally allowed to work in the country.
Acting director Homan said at the time "Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable," said ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan, adding "Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration"
The 7-11 raids were conducted a little over a week after Washington State filed suit against Motel 6 for training its employees to regularly hand over information on thousands of guests to immigration officials looking for people with "Latino-sounding names," most of which was done without a warrant.
In March, border apprehensions spiked to 50,308 people - up 37% from the month before and over 200% from March of 2017.
Meanwhile, Trump called for an emergency deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border this week, which will work with Border Patrol "until we have a wall."
Might be a long deployment, but at least businesses which employ illegals are officially at risk of having their doors kicked in and their workforce instantly depleted.