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  1. #1
    Unchained mojavebassman's Avatar
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    This is My Hometown!

    http://www.sj-r.com/Sections/News/Stories/111584.asp

    Immigration raid in Beardstown
    'Shut the borders down,' mayor demands

    By DANIEL PIKE
    STAFF WRITER
    Published Thursday, April 05, 2007


    BEARDSTOWN - An early morning raid by immigration officials on a cleaning company contracted by the Cargill meatpacking plant was big news Wednesday in this small Cass County town but hardly a shock to many residents.

    After all, Beardstown's robust Hispanic population - much of it drawn by the promise of a better life through employment at Cargill Meat Solutions - means that illegal, undocumented workers are pretty much expected.

    Still, the town doesn't take the situation lightly. Mayor Bob Walters said he's eager for Illinois' U.S. senators, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, to "quit giving us lip service and come up with (an immigration) bill that we can all live with."

    "We're going to have to face facts," Walters told reporters Wednesday. "Shut the borders down, deal with the amnesty problem and be done with it. That's the only way it's going to work. ...

    "We have to start somewhere. Quit bickering in Washington, D.C. Get off Wall Street and get on Main Street and see what's really going on in this world. There's two different worlds out there."

    Seventy-six employees of Quality Service Integrity Inc., a Tennessee-based company, were targeted in the raid carried out at 1 a.m. by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Twenty-seven people - including two QSI managers - are charged in federal warrants with aggravated identity theft. Another 49 QSI employees were arrested or are being sought on administrative charges of being illegal aliens and will face deportation hearings.

    None of the targets of the raid was a Cargill employee.

    "Cargill takes seriously the legal obligation to employ only individuals who are legally authorized to work in the United States," said Glenn Karlinsey, general manager of Cargill's Beardstown plant, in a statement Walters distributed during a city hall press conference.

    "While the cleaning crew members were not Cargill employees, Cargill has previously discussed with a number of its contractors the need to be diligent in hiring practices."

    The Cargill plant, about a mile southeast of Beardstown, appeared to be operating as usual by noon Wednesday, although reporters were barred by security guards from the property.

    At lunchtime at a local restaurant, an Anglo man who identified himself as a 30-plus-year worker at the plant - but who refused to provide his name or any personal information - said the local Hispanic population fits in fine most places, works hard and is generally neat and clean.

    The issue, he said, is not whether immigrants are worthy of living in Beardstown, but that everyone should have to obey the same laws.

    "There's a lot of young men that's died fighting wars ... so we can have the things that we have," the man said. "If we keep letting things go the way we have, things will be destroyed in this country."

    The Rev. Richard Sheehan, pastor at St. Alexius Catholic Church, has ministered to Spanish-speaking congregations since about 1973, mostly in south Texas. The Chicago native volunteered last summer to serve for a year at St. Alexius, where he holds regular Spanish-language services.

    Sheehan doesn't think the raid will negatively influence the Hispanic community as a whole - the targets knew they were here illegally, after all, and they simply got caught.

    Most of the town's Hispanic residents are hard-working folks who seek only a better life for themselves and their children, Sheehan said.

    "A lot of them haven't had a good education, but they know what work's all about," Sheehan said. "They work their whole life.

    "I remember in south Texas, when school ended ... the family would load up a car, two cars, a truck, whatever it was, and they'd all head up north to work. They found a job working, picking crops and other stuff. ... But they always came back in time for the kids to start school."

    About 10 officers with the Beardstown Police Department were involved in the raid, said Chief Tom Schlueter, although only Schlueter entered the plant, which is where QSI has its offices. He said the raid, which followed four months of investigation, and subsequent hours of questioning were peaceful.

    Schlueter doesn't expect the calm to break, but Beardstown police are ready if it does.

    "We did make preparations on possible things that could happen in the community," he said. "We've done that over the last couple of weeks, and we were prepared for anything that might happen."

    The raid prompted the Chicago-based Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights to schedule a meeting for the Hispanic community at 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Alexius, said Diego Bonesatti, downstate organizer for the coalition.

    Essentially an informational meeting, the gathering was to update residents on exactly what happened and explain where detained or arrested people are going and what the next steps will be.

    Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement involved the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the raid - so that no children would be abandoned by a detained parent - Bonesatti said the nature of such raids is "traumatic" for some people. Even people with legal status get nervous, Bonesatti said, if one member of the family is undocumented.

    "Especially when you get out of the Chicago area, when ICE does this kind of action, people get kind of freaked out," Bonesatti said. "People don't know what's going to happen next.

    "Rumors start circulating. There were rumors of a roadblock, and then (parents) were afraid to send their kids to school."

  2. #2
    Unchained mojavebassman's Avatar
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    Cleaning service allegedly taught employees how to fake identities
    By CHRIS DETTRO

    STAFF WRITER

    Officials of a cleaning company that worked for the Cargill pork-processing plant in Beardstown were not only hiring illegal immigrants, federal officials alleged in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, they were instructing the immigrants on how to construct false identities.

    Among the 27 people who face criminal identity theft charges are two top local administrators of a Tennessee-based company, Quality Service Integrity Inc., that has a contract to clean Cargill's Beards-town plant.

    Police and federal immigration agents raided the plant early Wednesday. In addition to the 27 people facing criminal charges, 49 more QSI workers are accused of being illegal immigrants and face deportation hearings.

    QSI is inside the Cargill plant, but the targets of the raids, which took place about 1 a.m., were not Cargill workers, and Cargill itself was not involved.

    Thirteen of the 27 people had been arrested as of Wednesday morning. Authorities were still looking for the rest.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had criminal arrest warrants for 25 members of QSI cleaning crews, plus Beardstown QSI plant manager Gerardo Dominguez-Chacon and QSI personnel administrator Maria del Pilar Marroquin de Ramirez. All are charged in federal court with aggravated identity theft.

    Dominguez-Chacon was arrested at his home. The rest were served warrants during third-shift hours at the plant.

    The names of the 25 workers are not being listed because authorities, in most instances, know only the false identities they allegedly were using.

    Lindsay Murphy, ICE assistant special agent in charge, said the investigation into QSI is continuing. She would not comment on whether it involves more than QSI's Beardstown operation.

    Neither QSI itself nor any higher-level officials have been charged with any wrongdoing.

    QSI employs about 100 people in Beardstown.

    Murphy said evidence uncovered during the four-month investigation indicates that valid identities of U.S. permanent residents and U.S. citizens were obtained and used to employ illegal aliens at QSI.

    "It is a very important case for our office," she said, adding it is one of the largest illegal-alien sweeps ever in the region.

    She said the Illinois region focuses on the "most egregious violators" of immigration laws.

    Murphy said Cargill cooperated with ICE. Resumption of the plant's operations was delayed about three hours Wednesday to allow Cargill to complete cleanup following the raid, according to Cargill spokesman Mark Klein.

    A company like Cargill isn't required to determine whether its contractors are hiring legal workers, said Tim Counts, an ICE spokesman.

    An affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint indicates that ICE agents in early December interviewed a source who was an employee of QSI. The affidavit says that, from Dec. 18 through March 22, Dominguez-Chacon and Marroquin de Ramirez knowingly hired illegal aliens and that Dominguez-Chacon had access to several false identities, which he provided to new employees.

    When people he knew to be illegal aliens sought jobs with QSI, the complaint says, Dominguez-Chacon told them how to obtain false identification, including valid Social Security numbers of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

    The 25 workers charged with aggravated identity theft allegedly had assumed identities and Social Security numbers that correspond to valid Social Security numbers of citizens or permanent residents.

    ICE agents used database checks to determine that 17 of the 25 workers were using the identities of people who have criminal histories outside Illinois, authorities said.

    Those arrested on criminal warrants were turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service. They are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court in Springfield today.

    Those charged simply with being in the United States illegally will be transferred to a facility in Broadview for processing, which includes interviews and fingerprinting.

    They then will be transferred to county jails in the Chicago area until deportation hearings are held.

    Eleven of the illegal aliens were released on humanitarian grounds Wednesday, said Chris McDaniels, ICE assistant field office director. Of those 11, one person requires kidney dialysis. The others were released because they have minor children at home, he said.

    Any who don't show up for a hearing will be ordered deported in absentia, McDaniels said. Anyone found to be a fugitive from a previous administrative hearing will be deported immediately, he said.

    Murphy said all the immigration-status violators will be interviewed to determine whether they have any medical or other situations that could allow them to be released with notices to appear. ICE worked closely with the state Department of Children and Family Services on family and child-care issues, she said.

    Of the 62 people arrested Wednesday, 54 are thought to be Mexicans, five Guatemalans, two Salvadorans and one an Argentine.

    Beardstown's population of about 6,000 is estimated to be about one-third Hispanic, mainly because of the jobs available at the Cargill plant, which employs about 2,200 people.

  3. #3
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    My Mom and Dad are from Rushville, IL. I still have relatives up there. They've told me the school system has completely changed in Beardstown because of the influx of people from south of the border. Some of the people I know that live up there are, let's just say are NOT very understanding of outsiders coming in.

    I can see people having issues with the whole illegal immigrant thing. At the same time, I also feel for the people that are moving to places like Beardstown because it sucked so bad where they came from. They are just trying to have a better life.

    But these companies, they don't care about any of the laws. It's about money and that's all.

 

 

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