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Shipley immigration raid raises hiring & workplace concerns

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Filed: Country: Belarus


20 arrested in federal roundup

Employees face deportation; chain working with ICE


2008 Houston Chronicle

Houston's iconic Shipley Do-Nuts is known to generations of loyal customers for its sweet glazed pastries.

But Wednesday, the family-owned chain found itself in the spotlight of an emotional national issue when federal agents raided the company's Houston headquarters and arrested 20 suspected illegal immigrants employed at the facility.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents — in a caravan of 50 vehicles, detention vans and an ambulance — swarmed Shipley's office and warehouse complex on North Main Street at 5 a.m. A government helicopter circled overhead as the Shipley workers were led away in handcuffs to face civil charges of being in the country illegally.

The Houston bust took place at the same time ICE agents conducted raids of chicken processing plants in East Texas, Arkansas, Florida, West Virginia and Tennessee.

In all, 290 workers were arrested during raids at Texas-based Pilgrims Pride plants on suspicion of identify theft, document fraud and immigration violations, the agency said.

ICE officials released few details of the Shipley investigation, saying only that it would continue.

Employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers can face criminal charges and fines. The workers arrested Wednesday face deportation.

"It's a worksite enforcement operation," said Robert Rutt, agent in charge of Houston's ICE office. "Our main focus is identifying the employers who hire illegal aliens."

Shipley officials, who could be seen meeting with ICE agents at the plant, declined to comment.

"Shipley Do-Nuts is a family-owned and operated business with a 72-year history in the Houston area," read a statement released Wednesday by the company, which has 190 stores in several states. "It makes every effort to comply with very complicated immigration laws, and is currently cooperating with authorities in an ongoing investigation. Shipley is deeply concerned for the well-being of its employees that are being detained and their families."

Neighbors surprised

The Shipley raid centered on its 140,000-square-foot warehouse, processing plants and office complex. It is part of a four-block compound the company has at 5200 North Main, where doughnut mix and other fillings are made for many of the 86 Houston-area locations.

The site includes at least five trailers and 14 small homes. The neatly maintained properties sit behind cyclone and barbed-wire fencing used by some Shipley employees.

Many in the neighborhood were surprised by the raid, and some expressed outrage.

"That's just people trying to work, they come into the country to try and feed their family," said Derek Shumake, who lives across the street. "They work hard, and they do jobs most people won't."

The raid sparked questions about hiring practices at Shipley and trained a spotlight on working conditions at its compound.

Fifteen workers filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company in 2006, seeking damages for allegedly enduring daily slurs, such as "wetback" and "mojado" while working at the company's warehouse. Most of the allegations were filed against a former plant manager, Jimmy Rivera, and two supervisors.

Some workers, however, suggested that the Shipley family could have done more to protect them. Filberto Alvarado Robles, who worked for the company starting in 1997, said in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint that "the company knew what was going on, or should know" because workers had complained about Rivera to another supervisor.

The company settled the lawsuit with the workers in February. The settlement terms are confidential.

Another worker, Joel Sixtos Salvador, of Michoacan, Mexico, testified in his deposition that Rivera threatened him with deportation if he complained.

"He would call me a wetback. He would tell us that killing me was like killing a dog. He told me that I was Mexican, I like to eat a lot of tacos, that I also like chile. He would, well, humiliate me," Sixtos said.

"He told me he had some police friends and that he could tell them to arrest me and deport me," he testified.

In his deposition for the civil lawsuit, Rivera, a Shipley employee for 30 years, denied ever knowingly hiring an undocumented worker. He denied telling workers to go to a flea market to get fake documents, including Social Security cards.

He said he did not find the term "mojado" offensive.

"I don't look at it as nothing ugly, you know," Rivera said, but would not confirm or deny calling workers "wetbacks."

Shipley said housing free

The depositions in the civil lawsuit include allegations that workers who complained about their treatment at the warehouse were evicted from company housing.

The housing was free to workers and their families, company president Lawrence Shipley III told investigators in the civil suit. But the workers testified that Rivera, the plant manager, charged them a fee — in some cases as much as $550 — to move into the home.

There was no indication in Shipley's deposition that he knew anyone was charging the workers to move into the homes. In the deposition, Shipley denied evicting workers for making complaints about work conditions.

The workers also alleged that Rivera would charge them money to enter a raffle to work overtime on weekends, and $50 to see the company doctor. One worker said he had to pay $100 to Rivera to avoid being fired after refusing to give him a massage.

Katrina S. Patrick, the attorney who represented the 15 workers in the civil lawsuit, said Wednesday: "We certainly intend to remain fully cooperative with the ensuing criminal investigation at the Shipley plant, to the extent that we have information relevant to the investigation."

Border Watch applauds raid

Wednesday's Shipley raid, meanwhile, racheted up fears among immigrant advocates that widespread crackdowns at local job sites are imminent.

Maria Jimenez, a longtime Houston immigrant rights activist, led a noon protest of the raid outside the Mickey Leland Federal Building. Jimenez said the raid follows recent ICE arrests at local apartment complexes and the detention of undocumented day laborers.

"In the (immigrant) community there is a great deal of caution by all members about being as open as people used to be," she said.

"I know of immigrant families who are putting emergency plans together just in case they are picked up," Jimenez said. "It has all sorts of implications for immigrant families."

Curtis Collier, head of the locally based U.S. Border Watch, described the Shipley raid as a small ####### in the overall picture of workplace violations by illegal immigrants.

"ICE could do this same raid multiple times a day, multiple times a week, and make very little impact on workplace violations by illegal immigrants," Collier said. "We do welcome the raids and hope they continue, and hope employers who choose to violate federal immigration law will be a target of illegal immigrant raids."


"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
Truly sad for being illegal immigrant.982477uqvc9qzqub.gif

make that a crocodile crying tears :thumbs:

* ~ * Charles * ~ *

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.



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Don't do the "unlawful act" if you don't want to do the time...

K-1 timeline

05/03/06: NOA1

06/29/06: IMBRA RFE Received

07/28/06: NOA2 received in the mail!

10/06/06: Interview

02/12/07: Olga arrived

02/19/07: Marc and Olga marry

02/20/07: DISNEYLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AOS Timeline

03/29/07: NOA1

04/02/07: Notice of biometrics appointment

04/14/07: Biometrics appointment

07/10/07: AOS Interview - Passed.

Done with USCIS until 2009!

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