U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents yesterday arrested 119 illegal aliens at the Petit Jean Poultry plant in Arkadelphia, Ark., after an audit of the company’s employee records and in response to a February identity theft conviction.
ICE spokesman Temple Black said those arrested were employed at the facility using the identities of U.S. citizens. He said agents were joined by 30 agents from other ICE regional offices in the arrests.
“ICE is committed to enforcing laws relating to identity theft, false claims to U.S. citizenship, and fraud,” said ICE agent Craig Griffin, who heads the agency’s Texarkana, Texas, field office, which oversaw the investigation. “We will arrest those who violate immigration employment laws and continue to restore integrity to the U.S. immigration system.”
He said it has been determined that many aliens apprehended at Petit Jean illegally purchased U.S. citizen birth certificates and Social Security cards, and then used those documents to obtain identification cards bearing their photos from the state of Arkansas. The Arkansas identification cards were then used to obtain employment under the stolen identity.
Yesterday’s operation, Mr. Black said, stemmed from an investigation into the sale of U.S. citizen birth certificates and Social Security cards that culminated in the December 2004 arrest of a former Petit Jean employee. The employee, Maria Moreno of Arkadelphia, pleaded guilty in February to multiple counts of a federal indictment charging that she unlawfully sold identity documents and Social Security cards.