Federal immigration officers arrested 390 workers at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville, Iowa, Monday in a raid to find illegal immigrants. A spokesperson for Customs & Immigration Enforcement said agents were seeking evidence of identify theft, including fraudulent use of Social Security numbers, and people who were in the country illegally, and U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth said the raid had been planned for months and was the largest in state history, noting that warrants were out for 303 more workers.
Agriprocessors, which harvests cattle and produces kosher and non-kosher meat and poultry products and is one of the largest kosher beef processor in the country, said it takes immigration laws seriously and cooperated and intends to continue cooperating with the government. No charges were brought against the company, which is continuing to operate.
The Agriprocessors raid, and others in the last two years, shows the need for immigration reform, but no reform is likely until next year after a new Administration and Congress come to order, according to Kelly Hunt, senior manager for immigration policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Speaking to the United Egg Producers board of directors in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, she listed a number of concerns related to the situation and said "we really need" lower-skilled and skilled immigrant workers.
She noted that there are 12 million people with undocumented status in the U.S. workforce, or 5% of the workforce; that current unemployment is the level that's considered full employment, and that 77 million baby boomers will begin retiring in two years. The U.S. is not going to have the workforce it needs without immigrant presence, she said.
With 12 million undocumented aliens who are working and paying taxes, contributing, for instance, $551 billion per year in Social Security taxes that they won't ever get back, Hunt said the immigration system "is clearly broken."