Press Release: Agriprocessors Addressing Challenges Following Worksite Enforcement Action
By Becky Ogann, KCRG
Story Created: May 15, 2008
This press release comes to TV9 from Jim Fallon who works in public relations counceling for CMA.
POSTVILLE, IA (May 15, 2008) – Agriprocessors, Inc., continues to make meaningful progress in addressing the challenges presented by the worksite enforcement action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies on May 12, 2008.
According to Chaim Abrahams, a company representative, Agriprocessors is concentrating its efforts on production.
“We were able to bring the plant back into operation the next day, and even though we’re not running at full capacity, we are able to resume production,” Abrahams said. “We are in the process of replacing workers so we can avoid any interruption of meeting customer needs for high quality products.”
Abrahams also noted that the company was in the process of enhancing its immigration compliance procedures.
“We are working with experts in immigration compliance to help us bolster our compliance efforts to employ only properly documented employees,” he said. “We have signed up for a government electronic verification program, and are working with our consultants on additional compliance measures that will enhance our hiring process.”
Agriprocessors also has launched an independent investigation into the circumstances which led to the worksite enforcement action, and is cooperating fully with the government.
“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families whose lives were disrupted and wish them the best,” Abrahams said.
Slaughterhouse launches own investigation - JTA
The U.S. kosher slaughterhouse raided by federal immigration agents has launched its own investigation.
Agriprocessors, the largest kosher meat producer in the country, announced Thursday that it was conducting a probe into the circumstances leading to Monday's raid. The company, located in Postville, Iowa, also said it was taking steps to improve compliance with federal immigration standards.
Agriprocessors was the target of what is being called the largest workplace raid in U.S. history, when federal agents surrounded its plant and took away 390 workers on immigration violations. A smaller number are being charged with criminal offenses as well, including identity fraud and using fake Social Security numbers.
"We are working with experts in immigration compliance to help us bolster our compliance efforts to employ only properly documented employees," said Chaim Abrahams, a company representative, in a statement.
Rabbi Moses Weissmandel, the top supervising rabbi at Agriprocessors, told JTA Thursday that the government allegations were categorically false. He was addressing claims in an affidavit that the drug methamphetamine was being produced at the site and that rabbinic supervisors had abused plant workers, the bulk of whom are Mexican and Guatemalan.
"I categorically say it's false, it's not true, it's a lie," he said.
Weissmandel did not address claims that the workers were illegal.
"That's not my department," he said.
Its nice to see Agriprocessors taking positive steps to address the problems and the negative publicity from the ICE raid. To recap, hundreds of illegally hired workers were engaged in employment for Agriprocessors, many of them making victims of American consumers. This is the basic definition of employment identity theft and the results of this sort of fraud cause American tax payers headaches and out of pocket expenses in order to correct their wage earnings reports with the IRS and to straighten out the record held by the Social Security Administration. Add to that the time and money spent by both of these agencies in dealing with fraud and the bigger picture starts to become clear.
In terms of worker verification programs, most of these are based upon verifying original documentation and screening a combination of name, Social Security Number and date of birth. (see USCIS E-Verify, the program Swift was using). If an illegal worker has been provided a full set of PII (personal identification information) of a consumer, a successful verification will be made. Rarely, likely almost never, does anyone verify the verification. Employment data is sent to the SSA which never attempts to account for discrepancies.
Rabbi Weissmandel can provide adequate cover for the kashrus aspects but not the legality or lack thereof in the policies followed by the HR department of Agriprocessors.