U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out one of the largest raids against undocumented workers in recent years yesterday, when about 200 federal agents descended on Corso’s Flower & Garden Center in Ohio. The raid resulted in the arrest of 114 workers who are not authorized to be in the country.
Corso’s is a large family-owned business that serves seven states. It’s greenhouse and perennial facilities measure over 350,000 square feet and are located in Sandusky, Ohio, a resort town on the shores of Lake Erie, and Castalia, Ohio, which is about 15 miles away.
ICE says it expects criminal charges to be filed which include identity theft and tax evasion.
The agency was led to Corso in October 2017 when U.S. Border Patrol arrested a woman who was giving stolen identity documents to job applicants who were in the U.S. illegally. Information obtained in that case led authorities to Corso’s.
According to The Associated Press, of 313 employees whose records were examined, 123 were found to be suspicious. Some had identities that had been stolen from U.S. citizens and some had Social Security numbers that belonged to deceased persons.
“We verified that a lot of U.S. persons were obviously unaware of this. It’s caused them a lot of hardship,” Steve Francis, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit in Detroit, told the AP.
The raid was the latest show of force by the Trump administration which has made cracking down on illegal labor a major priority.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the number of workplace investigations it has conducted for illegal labor this year has already doubled the entire amount conducted last year. The results have been more arrests and more fines collected half way through this fiscal year than all of last.
ICE reported that from Oct. 1 2017 through May 4, Homeland Security Investigations, the division responsible for combating immigration and document fraud, opened 3,510 worksite investigations; initiated 2,282 I-9 audits; and made 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite-related arrests, respectively.
For the entire 2017 fiscal year, which ran from October 2016 to September 2017 – HSI opened 1,716 worksite investigations; initiated 1,360 I-9 audits; and made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests related to worksite enforcement.
“Our worksite enforcement strategy continues to focus on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law,” HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Derek N. Benner said.
“HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices.”
Photo by ICE via Wikimedia Commons