Yesterday the Jewish Week printed the opinions of two prominent legal scholars who, after reading the affidavits used in Monday's raid on Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, thought senior plant managers (i.e., Rubashkins) were soon to be charged with crimes.
Today we hear a similar story, this time with different experts, from the Des Moines Register:
By JENNIFER JACOBS
May 15, 2008
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.…
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.…
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.…
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.