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May 1, 07

NEWS / Raids At Meat Packing Plants Uncover ID Theft Scam

A series of illegal immigration raids at meat packing plants in six states has exposed a major flaw in the federal government’s efforts to fight illegal immigration and, potentially, terrorism.

Agents at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, along with other law enforcement agencies, raided six Swift & Co. meat plants around the country in early December, arresting 1,282 illegal immigrant workers for administrative immigration violations.

About 150 of the illegal workers have been charged by the federal government with stealing the identities of U.S. citizens in order to gain employment, and another 98 face various state identity theft charges, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the identity theft uncovered by the raids sheds light on a troubling hole in one of the government’s key tools for fighting illegal immigration — the Basic Pilot Program.

The pilot program is an online system that allows employers to check the names and Social Security numbers of job applicants to make sure the data matches what is in the Social Security system. But the program does not flag cases of multiple uses of a Social Security number.

“While the Basic Pilot inoculates a company against one kind of illegal immigration fraud, it doesn’t inoculate against all kinds of fraud,” said Chertoff.

He said federal law prohibits the Social Security Administration from alerting DHS when the same Social Security numbers are being used multiple times.

Chertoff also said that improving programs such as the Basic Pilot will protect the nation against terrorist operations.

The raids were conducted at Swift plants in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Utah. The company, based in Greeley, Colorado, operates nine plants in eight states and employs 15,000 workers. Swift is the nation’s third-largest processor of fresh pork and beef.

In the course of their 10-month investigation leading up to the raids, ICE’s “Operation Wagon Train” identified various criminal organizations that sell birth certificates and Social Security numbers of U.S. citizens. While the majority of these are stolen, some people, including homeless and incarcerated individuals, willingly sell their own information, according to ICE.

Swift & Co. Chief Executive Officer Sam Rovit said in a statement, “Swift has never condoned the employment of unauthorized workers, nor have we ever knowingly hired such individuals.” He added that the company has used the Basic Pilot Program since its inception in 1997 to screen all of its new domestic hires. Swift & Co. was not charged with any wrongdoing.

By Michael Mink
Notary Bulletin — April 2007

Tags: birth certificates, birth certificat, birth certificate, notary,


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