Long before images emerged from a raid at a Salem meat packing plant Tuesday involving U.S. Immigration and Homeland Security agents, lawyers who handle cases like this say there was a lot going on behind the scenes.
Attorney David Leopold said agents were most likely looking through documents known as I-9s, which verify the ability of employees to be hired.
“Any time they do a raid, it comes after weeks and perhaps months and years of surveillance,” Leopold said.
Agents arrested 144 employees at Fresh Mark’s plant in Salem. While some were released after showing required documents or making bond, others will likely remain in custody for a while and ultimately deported.
“Traditionally, it is not a quick process. The immigration courts have been overloaded and overwhelmed for a number of years.”
Leopold, who represented local businessman Amer Adi earlier this year when he was deported, stresses Tuesday’s raid doesn’t prove any crimes have been committed.
“Just because someone doesn’t have documents in their pocket doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to be here legally,” Leopold said.
ICE released video of the raids to the media and both Leopold and Brown think the agency was probably trying to send a strong message.
“It is surprising, and certainly ICE wants it to be known that they are taking steps to enforce I-9 and unlawful employment,” Brown said.
The Office of Immigration Statistics issued a 2016 report that said Ohio was one of the top five places for initial resettlement among California, Texas, New York and Michigan.
ICE also stated in their 2017 Fiscal Year Report that while the overall number of book-ins to an ICE detention facility decreased, the number of those book-ins resulting from interior enforcement increased.
“The executive orders issued by President Trump in January 2017 strongly emphasized the role of interior enforcement in protecting national security and public safety and upholding the rule of law. By making clear that no category of removable aliens would be exempt from enforcement, the directives also expanded enforcement priorities for ICE,” a Department of Homeland Security report said.
Brown says given the current climate in Washington, D.C., the raid in Salem may not be the last one we see in the area.