More than 50 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested during raids on egg farms in north-central Iowa this week. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says 51 workers were arrested Wednesday during raids on six DeCoster egg farms in Wright County, the same farms that federal officials have raided numerous times since 2001.
Tim Counts, spokesman for ICE, says the raids were at the same northern Iowa facilities they’ve been watching for years. He says when DeCoster Farms was fined more than two-million dollars earlier this decade for immigration violations, part of the settlement allowed ICE to make unannounced inspections of those facilities.
Counts says the illegal immigrants are being detained at several facilities while they await their hearings. He says they’re being held in county facilities across the area and will go before a federal immigration judge, who will determine if they’re to be deported. Counts says there were adults and juveniles arrested at the facilities, with a few being released with orders to be in court next week.
He says some people were released, including a woman who had child care issues, in addition to a man and a juvenile. They’ll all be required to go before the judge and if they fail to do so, they’ll be deported "in absentia" and will be fugitives. Counts wouldn’t say whether or not any additional charges would be filed against DeCoster Farms in connection with the raids.
Owner Jack DeCoster and the company have -not- been charged with any crimes in this week’s raids. Counts says ICE will continue to ensure jobs are reserved for those who are legally authorized to be in the United States.