Questions and Answers: ICE Raid at Koch Foods of Mississippi on August 7, 2019

by Jim Gilliland 423.227.8206 | Aug 09, 2019
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1. Question: How many Koch Foods workers were arrested as part of this operation?

Answer:  Due to the abrupt detainment of Koch Foods employees by ICE agents at the Morton facility prior to the first shift on August 7, and the simultaneous seizure of the company’s employment records, the company has been unable to determine how many employees were affected, but every effort is being made to determine this information.  

2. Question: Were any Koch Foods managers or supervisors arrested or charged in conjunction with this raid?

Answer: Koch Foods is not aware of any managers or supervisors being arrested or charge in conjunction with this raid or who are under investigation.

3. Question: Is Koch Foods doing anything to help those who have been detained?

Answer: As noted above, Koch Foods is still in the process of determining which employees have been detained or affected by the raid. At this time, Koch Foods is directing employees to the government hotline (1-888-351-4024) for needed assistance. 

4. Question: How could Koch Foods possibly employ an unauthorized worker without knowing it?

Answer:  Koch Foods has voluntarily participated in the federal government's E-Verify program for more than ten years. Through that program, Koch Foods verifies through the federal government’s databases that every employee hired is authorized to work in the United States. For years, Koch Foods also has implemented a strict and thorough employment verification policy of additional comprehensive measures to ensure Koch Foods hires and retains only authorized workers.  It has vigilantly followed those measures. Those measures, however, cannot eliminate the possibility of unknowingly employing an unauthorized worker.  

For example, a worker could steal the identify of a person who is authorized to work in the United States and then present to Koch Foods identity and work authorization documents that appear authentic.  When Koch Foods puts such worker through the E-Verify system, the system indicates that the worker is authorized because, unbeknownst to Koch Foods and the E-Verify system, the information that the worker has provided pertains to the stolen identify of an authorized worker. Federal immigration and discrimination law require Koch Foods to accept documents that appear authentic. Koch Foods is prohibited from asking a worker for additional documentation in such a situation, and from disqualifying a worker from employment because of his or her national origin or citizenship. Therefore, Koch Foods must simultaneously comply with both federal immigration laws and discrimination laws.

5. Question: How have operations at the plant been affected?

Answer: The plant in Morton, Mississippi did not operate the first shift on August 7 but has since continued to operate all shifts. At full production, Koch Foods’s Morton facility employs more than 1,000 people. During this unfortunate occurrence, Koch Foods has continued to deliver high-quality products in a timely manner to its customers and all shifts are operating. There has been no interruption in fulfillment of customer’s orders.

6. Question: Will employees whom the government releases from custody be allowed to return to work?

Answer: In accordance with the I-9 verification process, only workers authorized to work in the United States can return to work. Koch Foods is in the process of working with the government to ensure only authorized workers may return to work.  

7. Question: Is Koch Foods cooperating with authorities? 

Answer: Yes, since the raid, Koch Foods has continued to cooperate with authorities but had no part whatsoever in the raid. 

8. Question: Did Koch Foods know in advance that the raid would occur? 

Answer: No.

9. Question: Does the August 7 ICE raid relate to a prior EEOC case regarding Hispanic employees? 

Answer: The raid does not relate to a prior EEOC case to Koch Foods's knowledge.  In 2008, Koch Foods received a complaint that a production supervisor and possibly a human resources clerk were involved in a scheme to take money from unlawful workers in exchange for getting them hired.  Koch Foods promptly reported that complaint to ICE and the U.S. Attorney's office in Jackson, Mississippi.  

It continued thereafter to cooperate with the government with respect to such complaint, including voluntarily turning over to the government all of its employment verification forms (I-9s) and responding to government instructions regarding them.  Koch Foods is not aware of any criminal charges that arose from that investigation.  A group of Hispanic employees and later the EEOC, however, brought civil suits against Koch Foods that in part related to alleged discrimination by the supervisor whom Koch Foods reported to the government.  Koch Foods vigorously defended those suits over a period of years. Those suits were settled last year without Koch Foods admitting any wrongdoing.

10. Question: Has Koch Foods lost any customers as a result of this?
Answer: No.

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