May 1, 2017

Pennsylvania Farm ICE Raid, Is Enforcement Strategy Changing?

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Amid discussion of leniency toward agriculture by the Trump administration, a mushroom farm in Pennsylvania experienced the exact opposite. According to NBC 10 in Philadelphia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested nine employees in a raid on a mushroom farm last week. The farm owner says none of the nine workers taken into custody were the four illegal immigrants the agency was looking for.

This is a significant development for farmers to pay attention to, because up to this point ICE has not targeted the workplace for detaining immigrants. In addition, there aren’t many dairy farms in the U.S. that could continue with day-to-day operations should nine employees be taken into custody in one day.

“There needs to be more oversight with ICE so they can't just do as they see fit on a whim,” says Minnesota dairy farmer Angela Tauer. “It's not protecting anyone, anywhere and just makes the organization itself look like a knee jerk reaction.”

While in Kansas City last week, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Trump has promised leniency toward agriculture in regards to immigration.

“(Farm workers) are not the people he is after, he wants to get the criminals who are harming American people out of this country and I’m all for him on that,” Perdue said.

However, Trump has done away with the Obama administration's practice of prioritizing the arrests of serious criminals which allowed low-level immigration offenders to fly below the radar, Politico reports. The shift in policy can be seen in the number of immigrant arrests. From January through Mid-March ICE apprehended 32% more immigrants than the same time frame last year.

Tauer encourages other farmers to do more research on their legal obligations when it comes to immigration enforcement.

“There needs to be more knowledge of what is legal or not legal by ICE,” she says. “Farmers and employees need more training.”