As many as 100 agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Border Patrol raided four Fresh Mark meat processors in Ohio Wednesday, according to reports by CNN and NPR. The agency calls this the largest workplace raid in recent history with 146 arrested. It is the second in the state this month.
The arrest comes after a year-long investigation of Fresh Mark’s hiring process and whether they knowingly hired undocumented immigrants. Three other company facilities were searched with no arrests.
A family-owned company that sells bacon, ham, hot dogs and deli meats under the brands Sugardale, Sugardale Food Service and Superior’s Brand Meats, Fresh Mark is a member of ICE’s Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program. The company also uses the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program and does an internal audit of its I-9 forms each year.
Some of the suspects were released for humanitarian concerns, but the majority will be detained in facilitates in Michigan and Ohio until removal proceedings.
Local coverage from the Cleveland Plain Dealer filmed dozens of detainees entering the local ICE office for processing.
"Unlawful employment is one of the key magnets drawing illegal aliens across our borders," said Steve Francis, HSI special agent in charge for Michigan and Ohio, in a statement. "Businesses who knowingly harbor and hire illegal aliens as a business model must be held accountable for their actions."
A 24-hour toll-free detainee locator hotline is available for family members of those arrested in today’s operation to field questions about detention status and the removal process. The hotline operates in English and Spanish; the phone number is 1-888-351-4024.