New Video Details Impact of Bungled Enforcement Priorities on Immigrant Workers

Contact: Joe Shansky, jshansky@unitehere1.org, 312-623-5382

[Chicago, IL] One year ago, President Obama reiterated his immigration enforcement priorities and announced an Executive Order that would have provided deportation relief for nearly five million undocumented workers in the U.S.  By contrast, workers at Ruprecht Company, a meatpacking plant in Mundelein, IL, have faced arrests or firings after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audited the company. Now, UNITE HERE and allies are calling for the firing of a local ICE official who is in charge of ICE’s Chicago Field Office.

UNITE HERE, the union representing Ruprecht workers, is releasing a video today documenting the story at Ruprecht and calling for local accountability for the Ruprecht raid, which resulted in 8 arrests and 36 firings or resignations.  Watch the video at www.fireICEnow.org.

“Our members are hardworking people, building roots and providing for their families, who contribute to the local economy.  The disruption to their families and work lives did not do anyone any good,” says Maria Elena Durazo, Vice President of Civil Rights & Immigration at UNITE HERE. “The actions of ICE officials in this case are clearly inconsistent with the President’s stated enforcement objectives.”

In response, today UNITE HERE is issuing a letter to Secretary Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, calling for the firing of the Chicago Field Office Director, Ricardo Wong. Wong presides over Enforcement Removal Operations for the state and region.

UNITE HERE believes that ICE has no legitimate business at Ruprecht, due to the Revised Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) which states: “ICE agrees to refrain from engaging in civil worksite enforcement activities at a worksite that is the subject of an existing DOL investigation of a labor dispute.”

For months, UNITE HERE, joined by dozens of immigrant, faith and labor leaders, has appealed to Secretary Johnson to rescind the Ruprecht audit letter, provide relief to families, and clarify how the administration intends to prevent ICE from interfering in labor disputes. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) called the inspection “needless and harmful collateral damage to…families and children.” As of today, the union has received no response.

“Proceeding with the audit at Ruprecht after being notified about the labor dispute was inappropriate,” says Father Clete Kiley of the Archdiocese of Chicago. “Someone needs to be held accountable.”

UNITE HERE represents 270,000 women and men across North America who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries. Learn more at www.unitehere.org.