Feds probe evidence that Fresh Mark may have knowingly hired ill - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Feds probe evidence that Fresh Mark may have knowingly hired illegal aliens

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SALEM, Ohio -

A statement from the operator of a Salem meat processing plant raided by immigration agents Tuesday does not directly address government allegations that it is investigating evidence that the company may have knowingly hired illegal aliens.

However, an email from Fresh Mark Director of Marketing Brittany Julian says the company is a participant in a government program designed to ensure that they employ a legal workforce.

Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE) searched four Fresh Mark locations in Northeast Ohio, arresting 100 employees at the Salem facility for alleged immigration violations.

The statement from ICE says the arrests part of a year-long, ongoing investigation “based on evidence that Fresh Mark may have knowingly hired illegal aliens at its meat processing and packaging facility, and that many of these aliens are utilizing fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. Citizens.”

Fresh Mark's statement to 21 News confirmed that representatives from Homeland Security Investigations went to the company's Massillon, Canton, and Salem facilities Tuesday afternoon.

The company said it is directing further questions to the Department of Homeland Security due to the involvement of law enforcement.

Fresh Mark statement:

Fresh Mark was the first company in Ohio to partner with Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) in the voluntary IMAGE program (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers).

This program between the US Government and private employers ensures a lawful workforce.

To qualify for IMAGE certification, companies must perform the following requirements:

Participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program

Establish a written hiring and employment eligibility verification policy that includes internal Form I-9 audits at least once a year

Submit to a Form I-9 inspection

Brittany Julian

Director of Corporate Communications

Fresh Mark, Inc.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, employers are required to submit the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment eligibility of anyone hired in the United States.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act spells out criminal and civil sanctions for employment-related violations.

The ICE statement does not say that any criminal charges have been filed in this case but does specify that members of the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers are not immune from ICE scrutiny or prosecution for workforce compliance violations.

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