May 22, 2008, - 5:30 am
Immigration Boondoggle: Where’s My Kosher Meat? . . . Or How ICE Agents Played Ed McMahon in $10 Million Julie Myers Alien Clearinghouse Sweepstakes
By Debbie Schlussel
When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents first told me about their raid on the Agriprocessors plant, early last week, I asked them whether they’d ever raid the country’s largest Halal slaughterhouse or meat-packing plant.
“Hell, no!” replied one. “These raids have to be approved by the White House, and they’d never go for that.”
So, why exactly did the White House go for the extremely wasteful “raid” of the world’s largest kosher meat processing plant in Iowa? And why was $10 million spent to capture 349 illegal aliens?
ICE initially arrested a total of 389 aliens working at the plant, but let 50 of them go back into the great American abyss for so-called “humanitarian” reasons (meaning we’ll never catch them again), giving them Notices to (Dis)Appear. Many of those were prior deportees or those with Deportation Orders against them, and the release of aliens with these records for any reason–”humanitarian” or otherwise–is unprecedented. Not to mention, absurd ad infinitem.
Do the math. That means that ICE spent about $30,000 to catch each illegal alien in this raid.
The operation is being billed as “the largest single worksite enforcement arrest operation in U.S. history,” but it’s a distinction without a difference, since more aliens at multiple worksites have been arrested in one day. And almost all of those arrested in this case–even though many used fake IDs and social security numbers and others were repeat deportees–were given “time served” for the so-called criminal charges filed against them.
In this case, “time served” meant from a few hours to a couple of days on a cot in Waterloo, Iowa’s National Cattle Congress exhibition facility, before being deported back to Guatemala, where most of them were from. And the deportation cost goes beyond the $10,000,000 initial expense. Instead of chartering planes to fly the aliens back, each will be flown separately on a commercial flight at top last-minute-ticket dollar.
Oh, and not a single employer was arrested for harboring and employing these aliens. Not one. Another experienced ICE agent at the raid tells me:
We charge the workers and then try to spin it like we are making “criminal” arrests of the company officials. The number 90 officials arrested, is ALL low level employees, not even mid or high level officials.
The former INS would CIVILLY fine these corps for violations. ICE is NOT doing this. ICE puts this criminal spin BS out there and that is only lowly workers. NO CIVIL fines. ICE doesn’t want to hurt the real criminal, the employers. This is all POLITICAL Bush BS.
ICE could actually get much higher civil fines, since the amounts have been raised since we became ICE. But ICE does not levy ANY civil fines or penalties against Swift, Pilgrim or Agriprocessors. ICE does these BS “criminal” arrests which are really just laborers who are being deported and being used by ICE for phony criminal statistics. These are administrative arrests, being dressed up as criminal arrests for show only. No fines are being levied against the employers which could be done by ICE, using the administrative fines and penalties just like Customs and now CBP does in FP&F (Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures). These Immigration civil penalties (fines) are a powerful tool that ICE is not using to pop the corporations. Instead Myers lies and spins about criminal arrests (lowly Hispanic laborers) which she wants the media to believe are against the company and are in fact real criminal investigations. NOT.
As one high-level ICE agent with decades of immigration experience told me, this huge amount of spending on deporting a few harmless Guatemalans–none of whose countrymen or co-religionists were among those 19 guys hijacking those four planes–is laughable, especially if you’re aware that ICE is struggling for money and agents are begging for funds for oil changes and opening up new case files for dangerous criminals and visa overstays from the Mid-East.
That this was allegedly the “largest” ICE number of worksite arrests on a single site at one time is not the important distinction here. The ICE Agent correctly points out that this is the “distinction”:
The most expensive immigration case ever wrapped up. ICE spent $10 million on the Agriprocessors case. How outrageous is that? As if the Pilgrim’s Pride case [similar joke of a raid from April] weren’t bad enough at around $3,000,000, this one takes the cake. There were 700 ICE agents there plus Detention and Removal Operations and Federal Protective Service staff. If you total it up, the agents outnumbered the aliens 2 to 1 and each arrest cost $25K. [DS: More like 3 to 1, and $30K.] They could have sent my office $100K and not only could we have arrested over 1,000 illegal aliens in the course of a month, but we would have actually prosecuted 20+ employers by making good criminal cases.
This case is so much fluff. It will pad the criminal worksite numbers for the year and boost the administrative arrests to ICE’s all time high. Although I believe in doing worksite enforcement, which is rare in this agency, the cost of this one operation is obscene. That money could have funded hundreds of cases which could have REALLY made a difference around the country.
From the e-mails that I see Jules [ICE Chieftess Julie L. Myers a/k/a "The ICE Princess"] is starting to try to justify this massive joke. There have been at least 3 e-mails that I’ve seen asking offices to update worksite stats, etc. I even heard she’s making calls out to offices to berate them on why certain cases were coded as immigration fraud or alien smuggling and not worksite enforcement. I guess she’s getting ready to pull another smoke screen when Congress or the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] comes knocking. Unfortunately, by the time that happens she’ll be long gone and some poor career puke will have to take the beating.
The election can’t come fast enough.
Hope we have money to gas up our cars the rest of the year.
The 1,000 or so ICE agents and Detention and Removal Operations officials present for this mass boondoggle, themselves, knew this whole operation was a joke. Another agent on the scene:
There appeared to be 100% agreement among the “street agents” (and I talked to many) from all over the country assigned to the Operation CVJ (Cedar Valley Junction) circus and at least 2 group supervisors that this was one mucked up, unorganized goat rope! BIG waste of money, no bang for the buck!
That’s why many of them were seen surfing on this site from the National Cattle Congress, looking for my take. After all, far too many of them were ordered not to use their cell phones or Blackberries in this very poorly planned, mass-waste operation. Their boss–ICE Director of Investigations, Marcy Forman-Friedman, who couldn’t be bothered to locate herself in podunk Iowa for this “operation”–was livid that because of the strain on the single satellite ICE put into operation in Waterloo, Iowa, she couldn’t get minute by minute stats of aliens arrested.
Computers used to enter aliens’ information and agents’ cells in use for the purpose of conducting the operation, used up most of the energy and bandwidth available for the one satellite ICE used in the middle of Podunkville. Because of this, the signal was poor and struggled. Forman, therefore, ordered that some agents stop using their phones and computers–necessary to smoothly conduct and complete the operation–so that the most important part of the raid–sending her the minute-by-minute figures, so she could brag about the “success” of the operation to the press and her teenaged Valley Girl boss, Myers, “The ICE Princess.”
Then, there’s the issue of whether any of these aliens, on whom we’ve now spent $30K apiece will actually be sent packing. Myers pushed ICE agents to make sure that they don’t actually leave the country but, instead, overclog the already overclogged immigration courts.
Said a high-ranking ICE agent:
Jules [Myers, The ICE Princess] was screaming at the SAC [Special Agent in Charge] of Minneapolis/St. Paul, whose operation the Agriprocessors raid was. Seems Jules was playing case agent and over-ruling the SACs decisions on an hourly basis.
One stark instance of that related to a civil libretarian attorney who claimed he represented 140 of the aliens arrested. He filled out G-28 (Notice of Legal Representative Forms). The SAC looked at them and they were not signed by the detainees. We usually tell the attorney to pound sand as the policy has always been a “completed” G-28. This prevents attorneys from soliceiting clients, and it keeps the attorneys for alien smugglers from representing their victims. And in many cases, it keeps corporate counsel from the illegal alien employer from representing the illegal employees and coaching tjhem on statements. Despite decades of precedent, Jules overruled the SAC and demanded that any attorney could have access if they “claimed” they “represented” (claimed to represent) a detainee.
Reminds me of when the former Soviet consulate representatives would demand to interview detainees to threaten the crap out of them so they wouldn’t claim asylum and spill their guts to us.
And then, there’s the raid itself. Agents told me they were never shown the arrest warrant or search warrant. That’s a basic absolute requirement in police work. Some agents, who are former cops, told me they were shocked they were sent in to storm a business and arrest people, when they were never shown the basic paperwork authorizing them to do so. It puts their careers and lives at risk.
When the got to the Agriprocessors plant, it was mass chaos. The raid was not planned well, and doors and points of entry and escape were not immediately secured–again, basic police work. Many aliens tried to flee. And several of the Chassidic Jews who run the plant wanted to enter the facilities. One agent:
I can’t remember ANY government operation being more disorganized and rudderless. NO ONE was in charge. They are all too busy seeking camera time and telling lies about the size and scope of this operation.
ICE superiors who ran the several days of seminars regarding the raid, the week before didn’t make a basic, orderly plan for the operation. Instead, they held an hour-long seminar on meth labs for the 1,000 or so ICE personnel amassed in Waterloo. This was based on the false allegation made by an Agriprocessor informant that a meth lab was present in the middle of this kosher meat slaughtering and packing plant. Absurd.
It’s been said that–since Agriprocessors is the major kosher meat processor in North America (and, frankly, the world)–that this will cause a shortage in the kosher meat supply, something I surmised when I learned about the raid. In my book collection is the very interesting Stephen G. Bloom book, “Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America,” which tells how founder Aaron Rubashkin and his throngs of Chassidic Jews operating the Agriprocessors plant initially clashed with the smalltown Iowa culture, but became much beloved when it revived the dying rural American town. Agriprocessors is a mostly “Glatt” kosher meat plant. While animals with any visible defects or tumors are not kosher, Glatt goes an extra step: once the animal is slaughtered, per kosher requirements, a rabbi examines the lungs of the animal to make sure there are no tumors or abrasions inside them. If there are, the meat is discarded or sold as non-kosher meat.
And while I’ve eaten meat from that plant, which processes the Aaron’s bison pastrami that I like, I don’t have a problem with them going after illegal aliens who work there.
But, again, I wonder, why the kosher plant? And why never a Halal plant, where we know a lot more is going on? (The Mar-Jac poultry plant raided by customs agents just after 9/11 was a multi-million dollar money-laundering front for Al-Qaeda, for example.) Actually, I don’t wonder, because we know the answer. Islam is off-limits at ICE, the entire Department of Homeland Security, and the whole Bush Administration. If only Chassidic Orthodox Jews or Guatemalan meatpackers had hijacked those plans on 9/11, they’d be set.
In case you wondered, Agriprocessors and the illegal aliens knew ahead of time about the “secret” raid. That’s why ICE’s Myers originally bragged to others that she’d bring in 700 illegal alien arrests, but instead only 349 were actually arrested and kept in custody. Like I always say, the only party that doesn’t know ICE is coming is the public which watches the show raids on TV and doesn’t know better.
Oh, and the two rabbis with “expired” visas from Israel didn’t know either. One of them actually had a valid visa and was mistakenly arrested. The other, was told by his employer that the paperwork had been renewed. Accidentally, it hadn’t been. I’m sure these rabbis, who examine the lungs of dead animals for a living, are a huge, dangerous threat to America’s national security. Unlike, say, the thousands of “peaceful” Muslims here on phony religious worker visas (some of whom have been involved in terrorist operations). They pose “zero” threat, right?
Agents told me that one of the Israeli rabbis was asked why he was working here and not in Israel. “Because bombs are falling on my house, there,” he told them. Yup, bombs from Gaza . . . you know, the place that other failed American national security policies forced Israel to give up to the “peaceful” HAMAS Muslims who won Bush-sanctioned “democratic” elections.
While many agents sent to Podunkville to conduct the Agriprocessors raid in Postville, Iowa were experienced senior ICE agents, some were far too new. Some agents, I’m told, had only a few months experience in the agency.
And the reason they were sent–and why neither Julie Myers nor John Torres (ICE second in command) nor Marcy Forman were there to pose for cameras–is because they knew the operation was a bust and a joke before it even started.
Just like ICE, itself. One ICE agent at the Postville raid summed it up:
All this–and $10 million–for what amounts to NOTHING except, “I love me” press coverage and spin for those atop ICE.
Just one question: Where do we go to get our $10 million back?
Don’t ask ICE Princess Julie Myers. She’s busy spending your dimes on her tax-funded vacay to Argentina.