Authorities arrested 146 people this week -133 of them irregular immigrants- in an operation against undocumented labor abuse that took place in several businesses in Nebraska and Minnesota.
The congressman for Nebraska Don Bacon described today as “tragedy” the exploitation of undocumented immigrants discovered in raids in that state and in Minnesota and called for an “agreement” between Congress and immigration authorities to avoid similar incidents.
“I speak with business owners who only hire legal persons and tell me that they are at a disadvantage when their competitors hire people who are paid below the table and less than the established salary,” the Republican legislator told the Nebraska media.
Authorities detained 146 people this week -133 of them irregular immigrants- in an operation against undocumented labor abuse that took place in a dozen agricultural businesses, as well as restaurants and supermarkets in the states of Nebraska and Minnesota, according to reported the Immigration and Customs Service (ICE).
Bacon said that two elements come together to allow the hiring of undocumented workers: the lack of available labor, especially in rural areas of Nebraska, where unemployment is 2.8%, compared to 4.1% nationwide, and inaction in Congress to facilitate the legal contracting of foreigners (H-2 visas).
According to the congressman, whatever the final decision of Congress on immigration reform, that decision should include the mandatory use of the federal E-verify database to verify the eligibility of each potential employee to work legally in the country.
The specific operations in Nebraska and Minnesota focused on businesses that authorities believe “hired and mistreated” immigrants without a legal presence in the country, according to Special Agent Tracy Cormier of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
According to Cormier, it was a “special operation” because it focused not only on undocumented workers but on those who hired them.
Apparently, the businessmen used “force, fraud, coercion, and threats of arrest and/or deportation” to exploit the workers, the agent said.
This afternoon it was reported that eleven of 14 detainees in the town of O’Neill, in Nebraska, testified before an immigration judge “not guilty” of charges of money laundering and conspiracy to house undocumented aliens.
According to the defense lawyers, the activities of the defendants are not crimes but are equivalent to renting a house to someone or providing transportation for someone to go to work.