Governor Chet Culver says he’s open to a state effort to crackdown on businesses that exploit illegal immigrant laborers. Culver spoke with reporters this afternoon at the statehouse, shortly after federal officials in Cedar Rapids announced dozens of workers at a meatpacking plant in Postville were detained after an immigration raid at the plant this morning.
"I have said before that I believe it is important that we crack down on illegal immigration. Illegal means illegal, not just those who are crossing the border illegally but also those who are responsible for making it happen," Culver said.
Culver directed the leaders of key state agencies to meet earlier today and chart a plan for responding to the situation in Postville. "We must make sure that we protect the rights of the accused and that we have due process in place and we need to consider the impact on communities and the people involved," Culver said.
Agriprocessors is the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant, but the governor isn’t commenting on the economic impact of a work stoppage or even a shutdown at the plant. "We’re going to have to kind of see how this all plays out," Culver said. "Most importantly we want to enforce the federal law and the state law and hold those accountable for any illegal activity."
Federal agents told Culver last week there would be an immigration raid in the Waterloo area. Today, Culver got a telephone briefing from federal officials about 15 minutes after federal agents entered the Postville plant. "I don’t know much at all about the operation there and obviously I’m very troubled by the allegations," Cuvler said.
The state patrol provided traffic control outside the plant, according to Culver, but were not involved in the raid inside the property.