Last summer, roughly 800 undocumented workers at Cloverhill Bakery in Chicago were let go after immigration agents discovered that many of them had used fake or stolen papers to secure their jobs.
The temp agency that had hired the workers had been audited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In one fell swoop, Cloverhill — a large-scale bakery with nationwide distribution — lost more than one-third of its workforce.
The impact was significant. Cloverhill recorded its first losses since 2014. The bakery fell behind on orders and started losing big customers. McKee Foods, known for its Little Debbie snack cakes, was one of them.
“With Cloverhill’s worker issues [last] year, they were not able to fulfill our orders in a timely manner,” said Mike Gloekler, a spokesman for the Collegedale, Tennessee-based company.
The next white-collar crime?
Immigration experts say U.S. companies can expect more crackdowns like this.
Worksite enforcement is the next leg in the Trump administration’s multipronged strategy to quell unauthorized immigration. In recent months, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has signaled it would significantly step up audits and raids on employers in order to sniff out undocumented workers and those who hire them.
“I want to see a 400% increase in work site operations,” said Tom Homan, deputy director of ICE, at a press conference in Washington D.C., in December. “We’re not just talking about arresting the aliens at these work sites, we are also talking about employers who knowingly hire people who are unauthorized to work.”
Most recently, ICE officers swooped in on nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the U.S. in the early morning hours. The agents conducted audits and interviewed workers and managers. The raid resulted in the arrest of 21 people who were suspected of being in the country illegally.
By Parija Kavilanz for CNN MONEY
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