Immigration crackdown targets George's

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Over 100 employees of the George's poultry processing plant in Butterfield were arrested Tuesday morning and transported to detention facilities in Kansas City, St. Louis and Wichita, Kan.

The individuals were taken into custody by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG). The arrests were made in connection with an ongoing investigation into identity theft, Social Security fraud and a variety of immigration-related violations.

All those detained are believed to be in the United States illegally, according to Pete Baird, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Kansas City. The aliens were encountered when special agents executed two federal criminal search warrants at the Butterfield plant.

The individuals arrested on Tuesday are from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Because they were still being interviewed and processed at presstime, a specific breakdown of nationalities, gender and ages was not yet available.

"These worksite enforcement actions help reduce the job magnet that encourages aliens to enter the country illegally," said Baird. "This case is particularly troubling due to the existence of Social Security and identity fraud in addition to the numerous immigration-related violations."

Buses were on hand at the plant to transport the aliens to detention facilities. Hearings before federal immigration judges will be held in Kansas City. All illegal aliens will be fingerprinted and placed in proceedings for removal from the U.S.

ICE agents are currently interviewing all those arrested on Tuesday to record any medical, sole-caregiver or other humanitarian situations. U.S. Public Health Service personnel are also on hand to question each alien about childcare needs.

Several of the individuals arrested on Tuesday will be conditionally released for humanitarian reasons with a notice given to appear before a federal immigration judge at a later date.

Family members of the illegal aliens who were arrested may call ICE's toll-free family hotline regarding detention and the removal process. That number is 1-866-341-3858.

Assisting ICE and SSA-OIG with the arrests were officers and agents from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Marshals' Fugitive Task Force and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This enforcement action is part of ICE's mandate to enforce the nation's immigration laws, according to Baird.

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