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Thread: Meat Plant owned by NY Hasidics raided!

  1. #1

    Thumbs down Meat Plant owned by NY Hasidics raided!

    Immigration raid: biggest kosher meatpacker started by Jews in 1987

    Agriprocessors Inc. opened in Postville nearly 20 years ago, bringing with it a promise of jobs and a culture that changed the small, rural northeast Iowa town.
    Aaron Rubashkin came from New York to open what has become the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant.

    Shutting down production at the plant will have a significant impact on the kosher meat sales, said Menachem Lubinsky, chief executive of Luicom Marketing and editor of KosherToday.

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/app...3006/1001/NEWS

    Quite interesting to read of the abuses of the immigrant workers that went on there.

  2. #2

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    The article you linked to only mentioned that the plant was cited for "39 worker health and safety violations" but doesn't describe what they were. Is there another article that talks about the specific abuses? As far as I know, violations can run the gamut from the very severe (endangering someone's life and limb) to the mundane (absence of a mandated safety notice on the wall).

  3. #3

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    There are links to several related articles in the margin, at least one of which makes reference to mistreatment of immigrants:
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/app...WS10/805150406



    May 15, 2008

    Experts see charges for plant's managers

    By JENNIFER JACOBS
    jejacobs@dmreg.com

    Waterloo, Ia. - Federal authorities are tight-lipped about whether managers at the Postville meat processing plant could face charges for employing or mistreating immigrants who were in the United States illegally.

    But immigration experts who closely follow raids across the country say they think charges will come soon.

    "The raid is usually another step in the investigation of management," said Lori Chesser, a Des Moines immigration lawyer who is on the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Interior Enforcement Committee and a liaison committee for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    ICE officials usually seek to gain information in raids that can be used to charge management, Chesser said.

    If immigrants cooperate with investigators, they can get a visa in certain circumstances or reduced charges in a plea agreement, she said. Management is usually not charged during the raid, she said.

    On Monday, federal immigration officials arrested 390 people during a raid at Agriprocessors Inc., the nation's largest kosher meat processing plant. Arrest warrants were issued for a total of 697 people who work at the plant, according to court documents.

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/postvillenames">A list of people detained in the raid

    The raid was the largest in U.S. history, according to federal prosecutors.

    Staff with the U.S. attorney's office in Cedar Rapids have refused to say whether they intend to charge members of the Rubashkin family or other Agriprocessors managers. Workers told federal agents that Aaron Rubashkin, who lives in New York, is the owner, and that day-to-day operations are led by Heseshy and Sholom Rubashkin.

    But in an affidavit written before the raid, special agents say they have gathered evidence over the past two years that Agriprocessors harbored and hired illegal immigrants, both felonies.

    "This affidavit sets forth some, but not all, of the information ICE and other law enforcement officers possess concerning potential violations of the above-referenced statutes and potentially other criminal laws," wrote David Hoagland, an ICE senior special agent.

    An affidavit is a summary of evidence authorities use to prove probable cause for a search warrant.

    A spokesman for Agriprocessors, Jim Fallon of Kansas City, said Wednesday that the company is cooperating with federal officials in their investigation. He declined to comment on possible corporate responsibility for immigration violations because the investigation is still under way.

    In the past couple years, the federal government has intensified its enforcement efforts against managers, human resources staff and chief executives, said Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Immigration Lawyers Association.

    Federal officials have levied stiff personal fines and have gone after company assets, Butterfield said.

    In 2002, 25 employers were arrested on charges of unlawfully employing undocumented workers. Criminal fines totaled $600,000 in 2003.

    In 2007, 863 employers were arrested on criminal charges and 4,077 on administrative charges, according to ICE statistics. Over $30 million in fines and other payments were secured.

    For example, California fencing contractor Mel Kay was charged for knowingly hiring illegal workers, fined $5 million and sentenced in March 2007 to a six-month prison term that was reduced to home confinement.

    Some of the federal statutes that can be used to bring charges against management include harboring, or knowingly hiring, 10 or more undocumented immigrants during a 12-month period. Obstruction of justice is sometimes used, as well as conspiracy to violate immigration law, lawyers said.

    Charges can also be brought if there were violations of labor, safety or health laws.

    But there's still a disconnect between what government officials say and what they do, said Angela Maria Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center at the American Immigration Law Foundation.

    Of the workplace arrests in 2007, 98 percent were workers and 2 percent were employers, Kelley said.

    "The truth is that our government could go after employers for wage and hour violations and a host of other labor violations, but the bull's-eye remains on the immigrant workers," Kelley said.

    On Tuesday, two busloads of workers arrived at Agriprocessors to replace workers who have been detained or who fled after the raid, according to Violeta Aleman, a quality-control inspector who works for an outside contractor.

    Aleman said that she saw the new workers Wednesday and that they were working in the beef and poultry sections of the plant.

    Register staff writers William Petroski, Cynthia Reynaud, Nigel Duara and Grant Schulte contributed to this report.

  4. #4

    Default Immigrants Staffing Aaron's Prosecuted ...

    But of course not the company who hired them.. at least no yet...
    May 24, 2008
    270 Illegal Immigrants Sent to Prison in Federal Push

    By JULIA PRESTON
    WATERLOO, Iowa — In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

    The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

    The convicted immigrants were among 389 workers detained at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in nearby Postville in a raid that federal officials called the largest criminal enforcement operation ever carried out by immigration authorities at a workplace.

    Matt M. Dummermuth, the United States attorney for northern Iowa, who oversaw the prosecutions, called the operation an “astonishing success.”

    Claude Arnold, a special agent in charge of investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said it showed that federal officials were “committed to enforcing the nation’s immigration laws in the workplace to maintain the integrity of the immigration system.”

    The unusually swift proceedings, in which 297 immigrants pleaded guilty and were sentenced in four days, were criticized by criminal defense lawyers, who warned of violations of due process. Twenty-seven immigrants received probation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association protested that the workers had been denied meetings with immigration lawyers and that their claims under immigration law had been swept aside in unusual and speedy plea agreements.

    The illegal immigrants, most from Guatemala, filed into the courtrooms in groups of 10, their hands and feet shackled. One by one, they entered guilty pleas through a Spanish interpreter, admitting they had taken jobs using fraudulent Social Security cards or immigration documents. Moments later, they moved to another courtroom for sentencing.

    The pleas were part of a deal worked out with prosecutors to avoid even more serious charges. Most immigrants agreed to immediate deportation after they serve five months in prison.

    The hearings took place on the grounds of the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, in mobile trailers and in a dance hall modified with black curtains, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing several nights until 10. On Wednesday alone, 94 immigrants pleaded guilty and were sentenced, the most sentences in a single day in this northern Iowa district, according to Robert L. Phelps, the clerk of court.

    Mr. Arnold, the immigration agent, said the criticism of the proceedings was “the usual spate of false allegations and baseless rumors.”

    The large number of criminal cases was remarkable because immigration violations generally fall under civil statutes. Until now, relatively few immigrants caught in raids have been charged with federal crimes like identity theft or document fraud.

    “To my knowledge, the magnitude of these indictments is completely unprecedented,” said Juliet Stumpf, an immigration law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., who was formerly a senior civil rights lawyer at the Justice Department. “It’s the reliance on criminal process here as part of an immigration enforcement action that takes this out of the ordinary, a startling intensification of the criminalization of immigration law.”

    Defense lawyers, who were appointed by the court, said most of the immigrants were ready to accept the plea deals because of the hard bargain driven by the prosecutors.

    If the immigrants did not plead guilty, Mr. Dummermuth said he would try them on felony identity theft charges that carry a mandatory two-year minimum jail sentence. In many cases, court documents show, the immigrants were working under real Social Security numbers or immigration visas, known as green cards, that belonged to other people.

    All but a handful of the workers here had no criminal record, court documents showed.

    “My family is worried in Guatemala,” one defendant, Erick Tajtaj, entreated the federal district judge who sentenced him, Mark W. Bennett. “I ask that you deport us as soon as possible, that you do us that kindness so we can be together again with our families.”

    No charges have been brought against managers or owners at Agriprocessors, but there were indications that prosecutors were also preparing a case against the company. In pleading guilty, immigrants had to agree to cooperate with any investigation.

    Chaim Abrahams, a representative of Agriprocessors, said in a statement that he could not comment about specific accusations but that the company was cooperating with the government.

    Aaron Rubashkin, the owner of Agriprocessors, announced Friday that he had begun a search to replace his son Sholom as the chief executive of the company. Agriprocessors is the country’s largest producer of kosher meat, sold under brands like Aaron’s Best. The plant is in Postville, a farmland town about 70 miles northeast of Waterloo. Normally it employs about 800 workers, and in recent years the majority of them have come from rural Guatemala.

    Since 2004, the plant has faced repeated sanctions for environmental and worker safety violations. It was the focus of a 2006 exposé in The Jewish Daily Forward and a commission of inquiry that year by Conservative Jewish leaders.

    In Postville, workers from the plant, still feeling aftershocks from the raid, said conditions there were often harsh. In interviews, they said they were often required to work overtime and night shifts, sometimes up to 14 hours a day, but were not consistently paid for the overtime.

    “We knew what time we would start work but we did not know what time we would finish,” said Élida, 29, a Guatemalan who was arrested in the raid and then released to care for her two children. She asked that her last name not be published because she is in this country illegally.

    A 16-year-old Guatemalan girl, who asked to be identified only as G.O. because she is illegal and a minor and was not involved in the raid, said she had been working the night shift plucking chickens. “When you start, you can’t stay awake,” she said. “But after a while you get used to it.”

    The workers said that supervisors and managers were well aware that the immigrants were working under false documents.

    Defense lawyers, who each agreed to represent as many as 30 immigrants, said they were satisfied that they had sufficient time to question them and prepare their cases. But some lawyers said they were troubled by the severity of the charges.

    At one sentencing hearing, David Nadler, a defense lawyer, said he was “honored to represent such good and brave people,” saying the immigrants’ only purpose had been to provide for their families in Guatemala.

    “I want the court to know that these people are the kings of family values,” Mr. Nadler said.

    Judge Bennett appeared moved by Mr. Nadler’s remarks. “I don’t doubt for a moment that you are good, hard-working people who have done what you did to help your families,” Judge Bennett told the immigrants. “Unfortunately for you, you committed a violation of federal law.”

    After the hearing, Mr. Nadler said the plea agreements were the best deal available for his clients. But he was dismayed that prosecutors had denied them probation and insisted the immigrants serve prison time and agree to a rarely used judicial order for immediate deportation upon their release, signing away their rights to go to immigration court.

    “That’s not the defense of justice,” Mr. Nadler said. “That’s just politics.”

    Christopher Clausen, a lawyer who represented 21 Guatemalans, said he was certain they all understood their options and rights. Mainly they wanted to get home to Guatemala as quickly as possible, he said.

    “The government is not bashful about the fact that they are trying to send a message,” Mr. Clausen said, “that if you get caught working illegally here you will pay a criminal penalty.”

    Robert Rigg, a Drake University law professor who is president of the Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said his group was not consulted when prosecutors and court officials began to make plans, starting in December, for the mass proceedings.

    “You really are force feeding the system just to churn these people out,” Mr. Rigg said.

    Kathleen Campbell Walker, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that intricate issues could arise in some cases, for example where immigrants had children and spouses who were legal residents or United States citizens. Those issues “could not be even cursorily addressed in the time frame being forced upon these individuals and their overburdened counsel.”

    Linda R. Reade, the chief judge who approved the emergency court setup, said she was confident there had been no rush to justice. In an interview, Judge Reade said prosecutors had organized the immigrants’ detention to make it easy for their lawyers to meet with them. The prosecutors, she said, “have tried to be fair in their charging.”

    The immigration lawyers, Judge Reade said, “do not understand the federal criminal process as it relates to immigration charges.”


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  5. #5

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    An account of the fast-tracked 'judicial' proceedings from the point of view of an interpreter brought in for this roundup.

  6. #6
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Not one of the owners / operators of this meat packing plant -- the people who broke the law by hiring undocumented workers -- have had any sort of action taken against them by the Feds.

  7. #7
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    One would think Homeland Security would be all over them.

  8. #8
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Not really.

    HS is only after stereotypical immigrants. Arabs, Muslims, Middle Easterners of various types.

    These Mexicans are cheap labor and it seems like Bush has been skirting the issue for a while. They are cheap labor for undesired jobs and they are also Union Breakers.

    Perfect for the "establishment".

    But you have to look like you are putting up walls so that the natives do not get too restless.

  9. #9

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    From the ACCOUNT I posted above:
    This massive buildup for the New Era is the outward manifestation of an internal shift in
    the operational imperatives of the Long War, away from the “war on terror” (which has yielded
    lean statistics) and onto another front where we can claim success: the escalating undeclared war
    on illegal immigration. “Had this effort been in place prior to 9/11, all of the hijackers who failed
    to maintain status would have been investigated months before the attack” (9). According to its
    new paradigm, the agency fancies that it can conflate the diverse aspects of its operations and
    pretend that immigration enforcement is really part and parcel of the “war on terror.” This way,
    statistics in the former translate as evidence of success in the latter. Thus, the Postville charges—
    document fraud and identity theft—treat every illegal alien as a potential terrorist, and with the
    same rigor. At sentencing, as I interpreted, there was one condition of probation that was entirely
    new to me: “You shall not be in possession of an explosive artifact.” The Guatemalan peasants in
    shackles looked at each other, perplexed.

    When the executive responded to post-9/11 criticism by integrating law enforcement
    operations and security intelligence, ICE was created as “the largest investigative arm of the
    Department of Homeland Security (DHS)” with “broad law enforcement powers and authorities
    for enforcing more than 400 federal statutes”
    (1). A foreseeable effect of such broadness and
    integration was the concentration of authority in the executive branch, to the detriment of the
    constitutional separation of powers. Nowhere is this more evident than in Postville, where the
    expansive agency’s authority can be seen to impinge upon the judicial and legislative powers.
    “ICE’s team of attorneys constitutes the largest legal program in DHS, with more than 750
    attorneys to support the ICE mission in the administrative and federal courts. ICE attorneys have
    also participated in temporary assignments to the Department of Justice as Special Assistant U.S.
    Attorneys spearheading criminal prosecutions of individuals. These assignments bring much
    needed support to taxed U.S. Attorneys’ offices”(33). English translation: under the guise of
    interagency cooperation, ICE prosecutors have infiltrated the judicial branch.
    I don't post things that aren't worth reading.

  10. #10
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    ICE /= HS.

    Thanks Jason.

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