In order to find the answers, my instincts told me to "Follow the Money! Follow the Money!"
About Howard Industries:
Howard Industries, a producer of electrical power products, does big business with Government. From 2000 - 2008, Howard received $15 Million in government contracts. Of course it helps that CEO Billy Howard and his family are big time GOP Contributors. Howard Industries is similar to Agriprocessors in that they have a history of OSHA failures. This year they were cited for 54 violations of federal safety rules at the company’s two manufacturing locations in Laurel.
In Monday´s raid, nearly 600 workers were identified by ICE as being "illegal immigrants". The first question comes to mind, "How can a company hire this rate of illegal immigrants without knowing they were undocumented?" So far, Howard is claiming innocence. Witnesses are saying Howard recruited them and provided them the documentation. ICE says they are still investigating this aspect.
One recipient of PAC Monies from Howard Industries has stated for the record: State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, co-authored the Mississippi Employment Protection Act said enforcement is done through state agencies - the Attorney General's office, Secretary of State's office, Department of Human Services, State Tax Commission and the Department for Employment Security. But McDaniel said the state may not have a case against the company because of when the law was passed. "Unless Howard Industries had violated the provisions of Senate Bill 2988 after its enactment date of July 1*, the state legislation would not be implicated," he said. "The possible penalties facing Howard appear to be federal in nature." McDaniel received a $2,000 donation during his 2007 Senate campaign from Howard Industries and Howard Trucking.
ICE´s approach humiliated all Latino workers in the plant with their Racial Profiling. Witnesses said ICE provided all White and Black workers Blue Armbands. All the Latino workers were put in line and forced to prove their legal status. ICE, in their uniforms and wearing side arms, caused ALL Latino workers to shiver in fear as they went through this ritual. The exits were sealed. Some Latino workers were sprayed with Mace.
500 workers were provided "swift-justice" and herded off to the Jena Detention Center. This is one of many centers owned and operated by the GEO Group, George Zoley is their CEO.
More about Crony CEO of Jena Detention Center:
GEO Group operates private prisons across the country, this includes many Detention Centers. In the year 2007 alone, GEO Group won contracts for a prison in Eagle Pass, Texas; an immigration detention facility in Jena, La. and a detention facility for U.S. Marshals service in Laredo, Tex. After the Jena, La., immigration detention facility reaches full occupancy with 1,160 inmates in 2008, GEO expects $23.5 million annually in revenues**. GEO, whose major shareholder is Zoley, donated $100,000 to George Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004. Texas has some of the Most Notorious Migrant Prisons GEO Group, with headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., received a 10-year contract in January, for the detention of 2,407 “criminal aliens” at the Reeves County Detention Complex in Texas. GEO took over the county’s contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. GEO said it believes that the facility in Reeves County, with the county seat in Pecos, is the largest privately-operated prison in the world.
Meanwhile back in Laurel:
The families, the churches, and the local Latino community are in an uproar. With the Racial Profiling that occurred at the plant, legal Latino citizens live in fear they will be whisked away into the night to the Jena Detention Center. Howard Industries was back in business the day after the ICE raid, scurrying to backfill the swept away employees. Time will only tell the impact in the days, weeks and months ahead. As one member of the community said, "“There’s a ripple affect to all of this..This is just the beginning."
In the meantime, GOP Contributor GEO Group is raking in millions as their privately owned Detention Center is filled to capacity, right on schedule, as predicted in 2007!
So in answer to my own question, WHY NOW?
1. Employer will NOT be Penalized due to Timing! *
2. Detention Centers need to be filled prior to Bush leaving Office!**
Readers, I will be following this story and the Agriprocessor story and keep you informed of what happens next!