UNITE HERE says a Chicago official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be fired over an immigration audit at a unionized meat packing plant in Mundelein.
The recent audit at the Ruprecht Company by ICE has led to eight arrests and 36 firings or resignations, according to UNITE HERE, which represents workers at the plant.
On Wednesday, the union release a new video about the audit and its impact on workers at Ruprecht:
The union sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, calling for the firing of Chicago ICE Field Office Director Ricardo Wong and suspension of the Ruprecht audit. The union argues that ICE inappropriately proceeded with the audit even though UNITE HERE and the company were in a labor contract dispute. UNITE HERE Local 1 is still without a contract with Ruprecht.
UNITE HERE officials noted that "ICE has no legitimate business at Ruprecht due to the Revised Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) which states: ICE agrees to refrain from engaging in civil worksite enforcement activities at a worksite that is the subject of an existing DOL investigation of a labor dispute."
In a statement to Progress Illinois, ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro provided details about the eight arrests connected to the audit.
"Special agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted an enforcement operation July 8-9 targeting convicted criminal aliens who fall within ICE's enforcement priorities for deportation," she said. "Following are some of the criminal convictions of the eight aliens arrested by HSI during this operation: domestic battery, drunk driving, theft and felony fraud. HSI identified these criminal aliens during an investigative (I-9) audit at Ruprecht Company that remains ongoing."
Montenegro also offered this comment about the agency's audit procedure:
As part of its mission to protect employment opportunities for eligible workers, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducts investigative (I-9) audits of businesses to ensure that they are complying with U.S. hiring laws. However, information about specific audits is not released to the public unless the investigation results in a related fine or criminal conviction of the company or its employees. HSI plays no role in any ongoing labor disputes when conducting investigations involving an employee's eligibility to work lawfully in the United States. In addition, HSI de-conflicts its investigations with the Department of Labor to avoid interfering with ongoing labor disputes."