Immigration Arrests Crate and Pallett Company Workers

Excerpts from an AP report posted at CBS News

In Houston, Jose Rivera, an immigrant from El Salvador, went to one of the company’s Houston operations to search for information about his 22-year-old son, an IFCO Systems employee who was arrested Wednesday. Rivera said a brother, who worked at an IFCO operation in Louisiana, also was arrested Wednesday.

“I really feel angry because this is an injustice,” he said through a translator. “It’s an injustice because one person, who come from another country, why can’t you work?”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested seven current and former IFCO Systems managers on charges they conspired to transport, harbor and encourage illegal workers to reside in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain, said Glenn T. Suddaby, the chief federal prosecutor in Albany, N.Y., where some arrests were made.

German-based IFCO Systems describes itself as the leading pallet services company in the United States, focusing on recycling millions of the wooden platforms used to stack and move all manner of goods. It operates about five dozen facilities nationwide and has been expanding steadily, according to the company’s Web site.

Last week, operators of three restaurants in Baltimore pleaded guilty to similar immigration charges, while nine people affiliated with two temporary employment agencies that do business in New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania were charged in a $5.3 million scheme involving the employment and harboring of illegal aliens.

Last year, Wal-Mart stores agreed to pay $11 million to settle allegations concerning the employment and mistreatment of illegal immigrants.

Wal-Mart has maintained that top executives did not know that cleaning contractors were hiring illegal immigrants, who sometimes slept in the back of the stores. An ICE affidavit unsealed as part of that case asserted that two executives were aware of the practice.

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