Maria Sacchett, Washington Post, April 6, 2018
Federal officials arrested 97 immigrants at a meat-processing plant in rural Tennessee late Thursday in what civil rights organizations said was the largest single workplace raid in a decade and a sign that the Trump administration is carrying out its plan to aggressively ramp up enforcement this year.
Ten people were arrested on federal criminal charges, one person was arrested on state charges and 86 immigrants were detained for being in the country illegally, Tammy Spicer, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement Friday. All of those arrested were in the country illegally, she said. Most were from Mexico.
The raid on Southeastern Provision in Grainger County, Tenn., follows arrests at 7-Eleven stores and other workplaces nationwide. Last year, the nation’s top immigration official said he had ordered agents to increase the number of work-site inspections and operations by “four or five times” this year, to turn off the job “magnets” that attract immigrants who are in the country illegally and punish employers who hire them.
The National Immigration Law Center and other immigrant advocates said the Tennessee raid was the largest since the George W. Bush administration and deployed many of the tactics of that era, with a surprise blitz of the factory, a helicopter and streets blocked by state and local authorities. ICE officials would not say where the raid ranked in terms of size.
Of the 86 immigrants arrested on civil immigration charges, ICE released 32 but did not explain why. The remaining 54 were being detained, but the agency did not provide their names or say where they were being held.
Since Donald Trump took office, immigration arrests have risen more than 40 percent and deportations from the interior of the United States have spiked 34 percent.
ICE conducted 1,360 employee audits last year and arrested more than 300 people for alleged criminal and civil immigration violations. Businesses were ordered to pay $97.6 million in judicial forfeiture, fines and restitution and $7.8 million in civil fines, the agency said.
Last month, border apprehensions surged to 50,308 people, up 37 percent from the month before, prompting Trump to call for an emergency deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.