Over a thousand already arrested in largest workplace immigration raid in U.S. history

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WASHINGTON – Federal officials warned businesses of an expanding
crackdown on the employment of illegal immigrants Thursday as agents
completed what was called the largest workplace immigration raids in
national history, targeting a company with U.S. headquarters in Houston.

“History shows that there are large companies that operate with a
business model that relies to a significant extent on undocumented
illegal labor,” Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff
said. “I can tell you that we are continuing to investigate other
companies as we speak here today.”

The raids in 26 states began Wednesday, hitting 40 work sites of the
U.S. subsidiary of a Dutch company. More than a thousand workers were
arrested by Thursday, along with a few executives.

Chertoff said IFCO Systems, an industrial pallet manufacturer, had
been under investigation for more than a year, after federal agents
were tipped to what he described as a systematic plan to increase
profits by hiring and exploiting illegal workers.

The investigation began, according to an agents’ affidavit, when a
worker at an IFCO plant in New York witnessed Hispanic employees
tearing up IRS W-2 forms; he supposedly was told by a company manager
that the workers were illegal immigrants with fake Social Security
cards who would not be put on federal tax rolls.

As the case developed, agents uncovered a system of gathering
illegal workers in Houston and sending them by bus to New York to work
at an IFCO plant there, officials said.

The company said it was cooperating fully with the federal
investigation and that it hoped to “have this matter resolved as soon
as possible.”

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