On the surface the News reports read like any other Immigration Raid. As Drudge reported:
"Federal officials say a raid at a northeastern Iowa meat processing plant this week was the largest in US History. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say 390 people have been arrested on immigration charges after Monday's raid at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville. The facility is the world's largest kosher meatpacking plant. The raid was aimed at seeking evidence of identity theft, stolen Social Security numbers and people who are in the country illegally. Fifty-six of those arrested have been released on humanitarian grounds; many of them have to take care of children. Others arrested in the raid at are being held in county jails and at a converted fairgrounds."
But peel back the onion and a tale of one of the most heinous employers in US History is revealed. Yet, of all the arrests, no arrests were conducted in the Employer ranks. Let´s investigate:
. In 1987, Rabbi Aaron Rubashkin purchased an unused meat-rendering plant in Postville and turned it into a state-of-the-art facility for producing Glatt kosher meat. Today, AgriProcessors provides 60 percent of the kosher retail meat and 40 percent of the kosher poultry nationally, and most retail chains depend on it for supply. The company was also the sole American packing plant whose products are accepted in Israel.
. Rubashkin Family Members are Large Republican Campaign Contributors.
. The Rubashkins belong to a Hasidic Jewish community called the Lubavitchers, who scrupulously follow the Torah. When the plant initially opened, a few hundred Hasim moved to Postville to help manage and operate the facility. Meanwhile, Postville´s population of 1,300 Lutherans had a mixed relationship with the Hasidim. In 2000, author Bloom detailed the struggles between the Lutherans and the Hassidic Jewish population in a book, "Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America." Throughout the book, Bloom describes the power struggles between the two groups and how both groups remained separate.
. Since 2004, the company has twice been sanctioned by PETA for animal abuses.
According to the Des Moines Register:
. Hiring of Illegal Immigrants: 700 complaints of illegal immigration violations
. ICE agents interviewed a former plant supervisor – identified as “Source 1” – in November 2007, who told them that the plant employed foreign nationals from Mexico, Guatemala and Eastern Europe. Roughly 80 percent of those workers were living illegally in the U.S., the supervisor said.
. A plant employee identified as “Source 11” told authorities that he/she was hired without presenting employment documents or filling out any forms. The worker’s first paycheck had a different person’s name on it, which was then cashed at another part of the plant.
. An Iowa Department of Transportation investigator learned from talking with Des Moines County Treasurer's Office personnel that Source #14 was involved in making applications to title and register cars on behalf of people living in Postville. The source said that, more than 200 times, he or she received application information and money and had the registrations and titles sent to various Burlington/West Burlington addresses. Source #14 then arranged to pick up the documents and sent them to the vehicle owners in Postville.
. The supervisors also described an encounter with the plant’s human resources manager about three separate Social Security cards from different employees with the same number. The human resources manager "laughed when this matter was brought to her attention," the supervisor told federal agents.
. Agriprocessors was notified of more than 1,000 discrepancies between names and Social Security numbers on workers' W-2 forms sent to the IRS between 2002 and 2005.
. “Source 1” told federal agents that some employees were running a methamphetamine lab in the plant, and were bringing weapons to work. The supervisor confronted a higher-level manager about the drugs, and shortly after was fired.
. three-fourths of the company's workers at the end of last year were using fraudulent Social Security numbers.
. Employee Abuse: a supervisor covered the eyes of an employee with duct tape and struck him with a meat hook.
. undocumented workers were paid $5 an hour for their first few months before receiving a pay increase to $6 per hour. The minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25 an hour.
ICE RAID: Monday, May 12, 2008
Officials say 314 men and 76 women were initially taken into custody by ICE agents. Of that number, 56 have been released on humanitarian grounds, typically because their arrest would leave a child with no custodian. Those arrested are being held in county jails and at a fairgrounds.
So now we get to WHY the Raids:
. RUBASHKIN TARGET OF ONGOING STATE & FEDERAL LABOR PROBE – Rubashkin Alleged to Employ Underage Illegal Workers Paid Under the Table, Fake OSHA Report
. The Des Moines Register is reporting United Food and Commercial Workers Union leadership asked ICE not to raid Agriprocessors.
Because there is an ongoing Iowa and federal labor law violations investigation of Agriprocessors and the union fears Rubashkin will use the raid to intimidate workers and throw the next unionization vote.
Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers, wrote a May 2 letter to ICE: ICE action could result in employees leaving the plant, interfering with a government investigation that would “ultimately uncover unscrupulous employer acts,” he said.
IN OTHER WORDS, THE ICE RAID IS PROTECTING THE EMPLOYER FROM FURTHER LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST THEM!
Update: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
RUBASHKIN OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL
The slaughter line is operating this morning at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. The I.C.E. raid, carried out yesterday in conjunction with 14 other federal and state agencies, only stopped production yesterday.