The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency
arrested current and former managers of the German-based IFCO Systems in
raids on more than 40 of the company's plants in 26 states. The agency
says nearly 1,200 illegal aliens working for
the company were arrested during the raids
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the crackdown
during a news conference in Washington, saying customs agents are now
targeting businesses allegedly involved in deliberately hiring illegal
immigrants in violation of U.S. law.
"We target those organizations," he said. "We use intelligence to
define the scope of the organization and then we use all of the tools we
have, whether it is criminal enforcement or the immigration laws, to make
sure we come down as hard as possible and break the back of those
Officials say the investigation into IFCO Systems, a manufacturer of
crates and pallets, began a year ago when illegal immigrants employed by
the company were seen destroying tax forms and using fake cards for the
U.S. retirement system known as Social Security.
Authorities say IFCO officials transported illegal aliens to and from
work, and deducted money from the immigrants' paychecks to cover housing
and other expenses.
Secretary Chertoff says the government will continue to crack down on
businesses that allegedly exploit an illegal workforce to turn a profit.
"Americans are rightly concerned about the need to enforce our
immigration laws and our work laws in the United States," he said. "That
means we have got to focus on illegal migration and also on those who
flagrantly violate the law by encouraging that illegal migration, whether
they do it by smuggling the migrants across the border or by employing the
migrants in a systematic fashion once they get into the United States."
Chertoff says customs officials will continue to deter illegal
employment by removing criminal aliens, building strong worksite
enforcement, and cracking down on businesses that support illegal
A statement from IFCO Systems says the company is cooperating with the