JUNE 13, 2007
The favorable portrait of honest and hard-working illegal immigrants who simply want to feed their families was shattered when federal agents arrested dozens of undocumented workers using dead and elderly Americans’ Social Security numbers along with previously deported criminals at an Oregon food processing plant.
More than 165 undocumented workers were arrested in the raid at a major Portland fruit and vegetable processing plant for food giant Del Monte. At least 90 employees had fraudulent Social Security cards and many used the real Social Securities of juveniles, the elderly and the deceased. Others had fake green, or residency, cards and at least three are convicted felons who had been previously deported.
The previously deported criminal illegal immigrants had been convicted in U.S. courts with crimes ranging from possession of heroin to identity theft and possession of counterfeit alien registration documents.
Immigration authorities launched an investigation into the plant a few months ago when a check of employee records pointed that only 48 of the nearly 600 plant workers had valid Social Security numbers. Because the plant staff varies according to seasonal employment changes, only 165 illegal aliens were arrested in this week’s raid.
Portland Mayor Tom Potter was outraged by the immigration raid, saying that it is bad policy for federal officials to go after local workers who are in his city to support their families while filling the demands of local businesses. He immediately issued a written statement expressing his anger and referring to the illegal immigrants as “Portland residents.”
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