Monday, May 19, 2008

From Other Sites on the Line: 19 May 08

Endorsed by Fox News at GOP Hub

Biggest immig raid ever much worse than you think

They hang the man and flog the woman
That steals the goose from off the common
but leave the greater criminal loose
That steals the common from the goose.
-- 18th century English rhyme

Cross posted from Project

Hat tip to Mike Thayer

May 18th, 2008 by Craig

Agriprocessors: A Blight on the Land

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained 390 illegal immigrants May 13, 2008 in the largest single-site immigration raid in US history. The raid took place at Agriprocessors, Inc., the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant, located in the tiny town of Postville, Iowa.

Federal officials have declined to comment about possible charges against the owners of Agriprocessors, and jaded Americans can be forgiven for assuming the employer will receive a slap on the wrist, if it receives any penalty at all.

But before you shrug and move on, it’s worth noting that the feds aren’t following the typical routine around the Postville raid. There may yet be some arrests in the offing higher up the ladder, with serious felony charges to follow.

There should be, anyway. The 390 detainees who were working in Agriprocessors’ slaughterhouse are the vanilla surface of a much darker story underneath—a deeply troubling story that demands the owners of Agriprocessors, among others, be prosecuted under the full weight of the law.

If this story doesn’t end with significant prison sentences handed down, there is, as they say, no justice.

An astonishing criminal enterprise

I first picked up the Agriprocessors story in May, 2004. It began far from Iowa’s cornfields with the arrival of a Chinese national named Hu Yao Bin with his wife and two children on Cathay Pacific Airlines Flight CX872 at San Francisco’s international airport .

TheCedar Rapids (IA) Gazette, "Immigrants were paid $5 an hour and after three or four months, bumped up to $6."

Agriprocessors, you see, has two lucrative and pernicious schemes going. One scheme involves driving wages down to bare subsistence by hiring desperately poor illegal immigrants to work in its slaughterhouse—the criminal enterprise that made the news last week. The other involves fraudently claiming that the United States has run out of native-born meat-cutters and then, with the help of American Immigration Lawyers Association member Christopher Teras, securing work visas for foreigners worth $30,000 each on the street in Guangzhou.

If it is the pattern and practice of Mr. Rubashkin, the sponsoring employer, Mr. Teras, the immigration lawyer, and Mr. Hu Shu Bin, almost certainly the agent of the sponsoring employer, to sponsor employees who consistently leave after two weeks, or who never show up in Postville at all, it militates against a finding that there ever was any intent to employ the alien for a reasonable period of time. The employer’s defense of employment intent is removed. He is indictable. He and all parties are amenable to being charged with conspiracy, racketeering, labor certification fraud, money laundering, making false statements, and, perhaps, tax evasion. [ US Code ]

Unquestionably profitable

The Department of Homeland Security severely restricts the public’s access to information it possesses about, for example, the number of visa applications a particular attorney has executed (why?). Therefore, it is difficult to say how much profit the Teras-Postville scheme generated.

However, Mr. Timmerman, Ms. Kim, and Mr. Hu all claimed, according to the charging document in the Hu case, that the Teras-Postville scheme generated "hundreds" of such cases.

Let’s say the Teras-Postville scheme collaborated on 200 such visas. At $30,000 per person, 200 such entries would have generated $6 million.

But hundreds of such cases? Isn’t it a little hard to believe such a large scale fraud involving so many people could go undetected for years?

I received the information about the Hu Yao Bin case back in 2004 from an ICE agent who told me, "You know, Craig, this stuff goes on all the time. It’s like we are waterboys for the snakeheads, performing our part by stamping these visas approved. It’s wrong, but it just seems to go on forever. We mostly get used to it, but sometimes it really bothers me."
He asked me to do what I could to bring attention to the case so that it didn’t just disappear.

I passed the information on to a member of the Iowa congressional delegation, who duly called the special investigations unit in San Francisco, which wondered why he was calling. The visa was perfectly legal, he was told, and so he let the matter drop.

I sent the story to several newspapers, but only the Omaha World Herald ran a small bit, if I remember correctly.

One reporter I contacted was Tom Jackman of the Washington Post, who had covered the Kooritsky trial in 2002. When I described the documents I had in my possession, he became very excited. I’m on deadline now, he said, but as soon as I file this, I’ll call my editor to get the go ahead, and then get back to you.

I didn’t hear back from him, so I called him again. He was apologetic, and said his editor had nixed the story.

The same thing has happened to me three times. Three times I have contacted a Washington Post reporter with a story. The reporter would be excited about the information initially, but then end up telling me his or her editor had killed the story. Of the other two times, one involved an aspect of the Jack Abramoff case, her coverage for which the reporter I talked to won a Pulitzer; the other concerned the manifestly corrupt activities of Congressman Chris Cannon of Utah. (It while I was looking into Cannon’s activities that I first came across the name Christopher Teras. Teras has made two political contributions in his life large enough to be recorded. Both were in 2004. One was to Chris Cannon during the campaign in which ProjectUSA was giving him fits, the other to a woman named Joanna Conti, who ran against Rep Tom Tancredo that year.)

So, to the agent who asked me to help bring attention to the Hu case: I’m sorry to have failed you; you see what we are up against.

But perhaps I didn’t fail completely. I also forwarded the information to the ICE office in Iowa that led the arrests last week in Postville. If the arrests are limited to Guatemalans, to the people on the very bottom rung of the ladder, I’ll know I have truly failed, and so will our society have failed. I hold out hope that more arrests are coming.

The heart of the problem

The biggest obstacle I see to cleaning up our nation’s immigration mess—bigger than the American Immigration Lawyers Assn and the greed of its members,bigger than subversive newsroom editors, bigger than contemptible employers—is the governmental corruption that seems to have this country by the throat.

One form of that corruption is campaign contributions—a practice that is destroying our democracy and simply has to stop. From 2000 to 2004, Agriprocessors contributed $2,000 to Congressman Noach Dear of Brooklyn, $2,500 to Congressman Jim Nussle of Iowa, $2,000 to the National Republican Congressional Cmte, and $14,000 to Senator Arlen Specter. Each of these recipients during this time period actively worked against the wishes and well-being of the American people on the immigration issue in Washington.

From 2000 to 2004, Agriprocessors also gave $3,550 to the Republican Party of Iowa, which repeatedly acquiesced in the betrayal of Iowans on the immigration issue during Governor Tom Vilsack’s administration, and $5,500 to Stan Thompson, an Iowa Republican who challenged Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district in 2002 and again in 2004.

How is Stan Thompson on immigration? When ProjectUSA put up billboards in Des Moines during the 2004 campaign advertising the fact that, in Washington, Rep. Boswell supported amnesty for illegal aliens, the immigration issue exploded into the race. Rep. Boswell was left hurling invective and fuming, but ineffectively, since our billboards were accurate. Enter challenger Stan Thompson. Thompson not only failed to capitalize on the gift he’d been handed, but neutered our campaign by publicly condemning our completely accurate billboard campaign and calling on us to take down the boards! To whose interests was Stan Thompson hewing? The voters’ of Iowa? The struggling guy’s in Postville with a wife and two kids to support? Or the interests of Agriprocessors, his campaign donor?

But that’s chicken feed

In 2004, the year the DOL approved the $30,000 visa for Agriprocessors, the total that lobbyists in Washington reported in client fees on filing documents that listed both the DOL as a government etnity lobbied, and immigration as an issue lobbied on was $74,740,904. That’s 5,240 times the per capita yearly income in Postville.
A similar amount was spent the year before that, and also in the year after, and the year after that. Every year, in fact, business interests dump tens of million of dollars in "lobbying" money on the DOL, as well as on dozens of other departments, on the House of Representatives, on the Senate, and on the White House.

Where, actually does that money go? Who knows. But the corporations must be getting something in return, because they keep coming back and doing it again the next year.
What are they getting? Hard to say, but there is one thing certain: every last corporation is concerned about one thing, and one thing only: its own best interests. The Department of Labor, on the other hand, like the entire federal apparatus, is supposed to be concerned with our best interests. To the extent the lobbyists are successful, we lose out.

Just ask the struggling guy in Postville.

A note from Radarsite: As with most white collar crime, the issues involved are complicated and are often presented in off-putting legalistic jargon. This is perhaps why they have a difficult time making it into the popular MSM. With cases such as this alleged case against Agriproccessors, the criminal machinations are often purposely convoluted and dense, and do not lend themselves to easy explanations. However, this particular case is an extremely important milestone in our government's attempts to go after the "bigger fish". We owe it to ourselves to follow these stories and support our government when they do try to do the right thing.
This article has been somewhat condensed for reposting at Radarsite. To read the complete article click here:


  1. As long as Punishment Does Not fit the Crime all of this shall continue to happen.. CLOSE Down these Businesses for A year, Longer if caught more than once and THEY"LL GET THE MESSAGE.
    Then make every politician that advocates Illegal labor for Puny Wages go and Work along with them for a6 months period and toss him/her out of office.. That should stop this Nonsense, Ya Thinks???

  2. Agriprocessors has more troubles than just with the US Government. They are the largest supplier of kosher meat in the US. And they are about to lose their kosher certificate.

    To be certified kosher you have to follow strict laws set down by Moses.

    1) Animals have to be slaughtered in a humane way. (This hasn't been done.)
    2) No fecal matter or blood can be allowed on meat that is to be considered kosher. (Sanitary conditions were horrible when the rabbis inspected the plant.)
    3) Ground meat has to be salted before grounding. (To be called kosher meat, all meat must go through a koshering process that includes covering the meat in salt and soaking up all the blood. Again this has not been done.)
    4) Employees must be treated in a humane manner. (Wages must be those that allow a family to live on and benefits must be provide. Again this wasn't done.)

    Kosher meat is more expensive than non-Kosher meat because of the Laws of Moses. When one buys Kosher meat one assumes that all the Laws of Moses are being followed. Thus the expense of paying higher wages and the expense of processing the meat are added in.

    To lose such a certificate is the death of a Jewish Butchery such as Agriprocessors.

    I'm sure they can sell their inferior meat to the non-Jewish market, but as for now the Jewish markets are becoming closed to them.

    IMHO, it is a great way to end such a business as Agriprocessors. Hit them in the pocketbook hard.

  3. Thanks Findalis for all that good info. What a lousy outfit!
    I hope they get the book thrown at them. As you point out, no matter what happens they've probably lost their most important customer base.

  4. The other day, I was stunned by the very incendiary jokes from Hon. Gov. Huckabee (R – AK). I do really take the Governor from AK very seriously on the issues he has clearly articulated on the campaign stump, for I believe he is a man of his word, principle and integrity. This said, it troubles me very deeply when a man of such high values will suggest jokingly that Sen. Obama is a victim of an assassination attempt (during his speech to the NRA -

    I do think it should be taking equally as serious as the Rep views on Sen. Obama's ties to Rev Wright. We will not want to look back some day and say only if we had spoken to Gov. Huckbee (a formal Republican presidential candidate, 2008) about his suggestive and incendiary joke in regard to an assassination attempt on the Democratic presumptive nominee and most likely the next and first black United States President, Sen. Barack Obama.

    It must be clear that, when statements like Sen. Clinton's "sniper fire" and Sen. Obama's "Clinging to guns", statements are examined under the microscope it is fair to do just the same with our colleagues on the other side especially when it life threatening.

    I strongly urge Sen. McCain denounce and reject Gov. Huckabee s' support. In the same light, I applaud Sen. McCain’s rejection and disassociation from the lobbyist and hope he continues to do the same with Gov. Huckabee. For this is the real “the straight talk express”.

    God bless America and God bless our presidential candidates.

  5. jr neville --
    Interesting points. However, I think maybe you posted them to the wrong article.