In face of 136 detained - Arkansas Poultry Plant Denies Wrongdoing

Poultry is at the heart of much of Arkansas' economy - a recent raid on a poultry plant in rural Butterfield Arkansas in which 136 workers were detained brings to light the connection of industry and immigration in the new gateway state. Once unchartered territory for immigrants, Arkansas industries have flourished because of immigrant workers. George's Poultry plant, raided earlier this week, denies any wrongdoing in its employment of immigrants. They will not be criminalized by the federal government, as they say they make every effor tot verify the work authorization of all employees.

The federal government has been waging war on families and industry through their workplace raids. This case may very well set a precedent for business fighting back.

Read the rest of the story: Associated Press Poultry Plant Says It Complies With Law By MARCUS KABEL 05.23.07, 9:43 PM ET   A poultry processor where federal agents detained 136 workers as suspected illegal immigrants said Wednesday it makes every effort to comply with immigration laws and verify that employees are in the country legally.

Armed immigration agents raided a George's Inc. poultry plant Tuesday in rural Butterfield, about 60 miles southwest of Springfield, rounding up day shift workers and checking their identities and documents.

"George's makes every effort to comply with all employment and immigration laws," the company said in a statement, adding that it is a voluntary participant in a federal pilot program that verifies the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of potential employees.

A George's spokesman for the Springdale, Ark.-based company declined to comment further or to say how many people work at the Butterfield plant. Immigration officials put the plant's work force at several hundred.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Tim Counts said that out of 136 people arrested, 31 were released on the condition that they appear for a hearing, most of them because they were sole caregivers of children.

Pete Baird, an agent in charge of the ICE investigations office in Kansas City, said most of those arrested were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The arrests were part of a probe into identity theft and false documents, including stolen Social Security numbers, allegedly used by illegal immigrants, Baird said Tuesday. Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved