Federal immigration enforcement authorities arrested 146 workers at a Salem, Ohio, meatpacking plant on June 19 as a result of a yearlong investigation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents executed a search warrant at four Fresh Mark locations. During the search at the Salem plant, authorities identified and arrested the illegal aliens.
“Unlawful employment is one of the key magnets drawing illegal aliens across our borders,” Steve Francis, Homeland Security Investigations special agent in charge for Michigan and Ohio, said in a press release. “Businesses who knowingly harbor and hire illegal aliens as a business model must be held accountable for their actions.”
The raid was part of a probe into whether Fresh Mark knowingly hired illegal aliens for its meatpacking and processing plant. The investigation also looked into whether the illegal aliens used fraudulent identification belonging to American citizens.
ICE noted that several of those arrested were processed and released on the same day because of family and health considerations.
Fresh Mark is part of ICE’s Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program. Companies that participate in IMAGE self-police the hiring process by checking whether workers are in the country illegally and whether their documents are fraudulent. ICE noted that those in the IMAGE system aren’t immune to scrutiny.
The illegal aliens were transported to nearby processing facilities in Michigan and Ohio to await removal proceedings. ICE did not release details on any potential charges against Fresh Mark or the detained employees.
Fresh Mark makes bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meats, and dry sausage, according to its website.
The raid is the second large-scale immigration enforcement operation in Ohio this month. Two weeks ago, ICE agents raided locations of Corso’s Flower and Garden Center, a gardening and landscaping company, and arrested 114 illegal aliens.
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