On April 5, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted a worksite raid on Southeastern Provision, a meatpacking plant located in rural Bean Station, Tennessee. This raid resulted in the arrest / detainment of 97 individuals in what the Washington Post calls the “largest since the George W. Bush administration.”
According to an agency spokesperson as reported by the Post, “Ten people were arrested on federal immigration charges, one person was arrested on state charges and 86 immigrants were detained for being in the country illegally.” The raid was executed as part of a federal criminal search warrant, involving DHS’ Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. According to the IRS, the company is under additional investigation for alleged tax evasion, filing false tax returns, and hiring unauthorized workers.
In 2008, the Bush Administration made international headlines with the largest immigration raid in U.S. history, targeting Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa and detaining nearly 400 people. This particular raid harkens back to the Bush administration in both purpose and intent and stands in stark contrast the Obama administrations worksite enforcement, which focused more on paperwork compliance. The emboldened agency’s actions are seemingly growing in scope as ICE’s actions this calendar year appear to be substantiating its Director Tom Holman’s promise to potentially quintuple enforcement actions in 2018. We have previously covered the agency’s extremely active operations in February, targeting California-based businesses, as well as a nationwide targeting of the convenience store 7-Eleven.
All businesses should be proactive in ensuring that they have all of their employment compliance files as accurate as possible. Civil liability may attach to businesses that do not hire foreign workers or have a 100% work-authorized employee pool. Indeed, Form I-9 violations and ICE auditing may result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and significant negative press attention. In this climate, ensuring total compliance with all employee verification laws is an absolute must. Contact us today for advice on ensuring compliance with your company’s employee verification policies and procedures.