Immigration audits affect Minnesota businesses
ST PAUL, Minnesota (AP):
A St Paul baking company that shuttered after an immigration audit is among nearly three dozen Minnesota businesses United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has targeted since President Donald Trump took office.
ICE audited as least 34 Minnesota companies from January 2017 through April 2018 as part of the government's increased enforcement to discourage illegal work. The number doesn't include pending and open cases like St Agnes Baking Co, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
The wholesale bakery closed in January, after 15 years, as a result of an audit finding half its employees were unauthorised to work in the country. The 23 employees had to be terminated after being unable to show proper work authorisation. St Agnes couldn't find replacements with the same expertise by ICE's deadline, so leadership decided to stop production and cleared out the warehouse.
"I wish I could list (the employees) all by name because they deserve it," said Mike Mitchelson, the bakery's operations director. "They built the company."
The company said no arrests resulted from the audit and none of the workers have been deported.
A two-phase operation this year that served more than 5,200 businesses around the US resulted in 100 arrests, according to ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer. He said that ICE conducted more than 110 audits in the region that includes Minnesota.
Audits themselves don't spark investigations, but ICE could launch one if the agency finds egregious violations or a pattern of intent to deceive, Neudauer said.
St Agnes Baking Chief Executive Officer Dan McGleno said he still keeps in touch with his former employees. He said he was unaware that some of the employees were unauthorised to work in the US.
"I was sitting with one of the guys in the break room and he just said the biggest mistake that he made was he got too comfortable; as a Mexican he should've known better," McGleno recalled. "And boy, that just blew me away."