Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested arrested 97 suspected illegal-alien workers last Thursday, in the largest workplace raid in a decade, at a cattle-slaughter facility in northeast Tennessee just outside Knoxville. The agency worked with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to execute a federal criminal search warrant of the facility.
The facility is also under criminal investigation by the IRS for alleged tax evasion, falsified tax returns and hiring of illegal aliens.
ICE Spokeswoman Tammy Spicer stated Friday that all of the 97 individuals arrested are suspected of entering and residing in the U.S. illegally. Of those detained, 10 were arrested on federal immigration charges, and one was arrested on state charges.
According to IRS Special Agent Nicholas R. Worsham, the plant allegedly neglected to report $8.4 million in wages and to pay $2.5 million in payroll taxes for dozens of illegal-alien workers. Worsham added that the cattle-slaughter facility not only hired illegal-alien workers, paying them in cash under the table, but that they also subjected them to harsh conditions, including working long hours without overtime compensation and exposure to dangerous chemicals like bleach without providing protective eyewear.
The investigation began after employees of Citizens Bank noticed that Southeastern Provision had been withdrawing more than $25 million since 2008.
The arrests come after ICE agents conducted raids on some 98 7-Eleven convenient stores in 17 states nationwide back in January.
In 2017, Tennessee required all public and private employers with more than 6 employees to either use E-Verify or check and retain acceptable work authorization documents. But, as of January 2018, law SB 1965 went into effect, now only requiring mandatory E-Verify use for all employers with 50 or more employees.
For more on this story, see the Washington Post.
Updated: Tue, Apr 10th 2018 @ 9:45am EDT