The Washington Post reported that Alabama-based Peco Farms Inc. “confirmed in a statement that ICE raided three of its poultry processing plants in Mississippi, and the company said it is cooperating fully with federal authorities.”
According to its website, Tuscaloosa based Peco Farms is the 8th largest poultry producer in the country.
According to a press release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), “This HSI-led operation was conducted in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, of which U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. will prosecute any resulting federal criminal charges.
The Washington Post article quotes U.S. Attorney Hurst as saying, “To those who use illegal aliens for a competitive advantage or to make a quick buck, we have something to say to you: If we find you have violated federal criminal law, we are coming for you.” Going on to say he, “declined to comment on whether anyone other than the immigrant workers would be charged as a result of the operation, which he said is ongoing.”
Matthew Albence, ICE’s acting director, told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday in Pearl, Mississippi, “that the raids could be the largest-ever workplace operation in any single state.”
ICE describes HSI as, “the federal law enforcement agency responsible for upholding the laws established by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of individuals they hire. These laws help protect jobs for U.S. citizens and lawful U.S. residents, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that unlawfully hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.”
The raid shouldn’t have come as a surprise to employers as this was another step in an operation that included over 5,200 I-9 notices to businesses last year.
During the first phase of the operation ICE released a statement saying, “This is not a victimless crime,” said Derek N. Benner, Acting Executive Associate Director for HSI. “Unauthorized workers often use stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, which can significantly impact the identity theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life.”
“Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records. All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law,” Benner said. “Worksite enforcement protects jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminates unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.”
Below is a list of additional Peco Farm facilities: