Feds arrest more than 100 at Salem Fresh Mark for immigration vi - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Feds arrest more than 100 at Salem Fresh Mark for immigration violations

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SALEM, Ohio -

Federal investigators have made more than 100 arrests after conducting a raid at Fresh Mark in Salem.

Special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations executed a criminal search warrant at Fresh Mark in Salem and three other locations Tuesday around 4 p.m.

A release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said authorities arrested more than 100 Fresh Mark employees at the Salem plant for immigration violations. 

According to Steve Francis, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations Unit, this raid was the largest workplace enforcement action so far under the Trump administration.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has released a statement on the situation.

Brown said: "My first concern is for the children who were separated from their families by the raid, and my office is looking into what we can do to help them. Tearing families apart is not going to fix our broken immigration system. Instead, we need a bipartisan solution that recognizes we aren’t going to deport 13 million people here already, but we can secure our borders and create a pathway for people to earn citizenship if they follow the law, have a job and pay taxes."

Salem Mayor John Berlin said Salem High School was opened to give the children of those detained sanctuary and a local restaurant provided them with meals. 

Area churches are also helping the children. Most have been returned to the custody of family members. 

A 24-hour toll-free detainee locator hotline is available for family members of those arrested in today’s operation to field questions about detention status and the removal process. The hotline operates in English and Spanish; the phone number is 1-888-351-4024.

This is part of a year-long, ongoing HSI investigation based on evidence that Fresh Mark may have knowingly hired illegal aliens at its meat processing and packaging facility, according to a release.

The release says that many of these aliens are using fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens.

"Unlawful employment is one of the key magnets drawing illegal aliens across our borders," said Steve Francis, HSI special agent in charge for Michigan and Ohio. "Businesses who knowingly harbor and hire illegal aliens as a business model must be held accountable for their actions."

Tuesday afternoon, witnesses reported helicopters overhead and employees being detained in the parking lot at the Salem plant.

They said no one was being permitted to enter or exit the plant and three government buses were on scene.

The release says aliens who are being detained will be transported to a nearby processing facility located and placed in removal proceedings. Aliens will be detained in facilities in Michigan and Ohio while awaiting removal proceedings.

Search warrants were served at the Salem location, two Massillon locations and a Canton location.

"We can confirm representatives from Homeland Security Investigations are present in our Massillon, Canton, and Salem facilities. We will have more information as it becomes available," said Brittany Julian, director of corporate communications at Fresh Mark.

According to the company website, Fresh Mark supplies bacon, ham, hot dogs and deli meats under the Sugardale and Superior brands.

The Regional Chamber of Commerce says between 500 and 1,000 people are employed at the Salem plant, making it one of Columbiana County's largest employers.

The release said Fresh Mark is a member in ICE’s IMAGE program, which stands for ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers. However, IMAGE members are not immune from ICE scrutiny or prosecution for workforce compliance violations.

An immigration attorney claims these latest raids appear to show a pattern that ICE agents are targeting workers who are trying to support their families. 

David Leopold represented Youngstown businessman Al Adi who was deported to Jordan in January after living in the U.S. for nearly 40 years. 

Leopold said he wants the administration to prioritize felons and national security risks, not workers.

"It seems to fit the pattern of going after people who are trying to make a better life for themselves and trying to make a better life for their families and doing what many of our grandparents and great grandparents did when they came to the country," he said.

We don't know details about the arrests yet but Leopold said people could possibly be charged criminally and soon face a magistrate, they could face civil violations and be detained for some time, or they could be deported quickly if they have previous orders.

.

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