In the largest raid ever conducted in the Carolinas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained more than 300 workers at Columbia Farms, a House of Raeford Poultry plant in Columbia, S.C.
Roughly 100 agents swept through the plant just before 9 a.m. on Oct. 7, sending workers scattering, some screaming and in tears.
Authorities sprang the trap after an investigation indicated that 777 of 825 workers at the plant might have submitted false employment documents. The workers will be questioned about the company’s hiring and pay procedures, and may be deported.
A statement from House of Raeford, based in Raeford, N.C., said, “We share the government’s goal of eliminating the hiring or employment of unauthorized workers, and will terminate any and all of the employees who were taken into custody or have engaged in similar misconduct.”
But some Raeford supervisors have said the company preferred illegal workers because they were less likely to question working conditions.
Kenneth Smith, ICE special agent, told The Charlotte Observer the agency is focusing its enforcement efforts on employers because “the promise of employment draws illegal workers across our borders.”