Nation's Largest Kosher Meat Packing Plant Raided On ID Theft Concerns

You might have a harder time finding kosher meat in the coming weeks, because the country’s largest kosher meat packing plant, Agriprocessors, was raided this past Monday. At least 300 of its nearly 1000 employees were arrested for using fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers, and immigration officials have said they expect the number to go as high as 700.

Agriprocessors is located in Postville, Iowa, which might seem like an odd place for the nation’s largest kosher meat packing plant:

About 200 Hasidic Jews arrived in Postville in 1987, when butcher Aaron Rubashkin of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood reopened a defunct meatpacking plant with his two sons, Sholom and Heshy, just outside the city limits. Business boomed at the plant, reviving the depressed economy while pitting the newcomers against the predominantly Lutheran community.

“Iowa meatpacking plant raided in ID theft investigation” [USA Today]

RELATED
“Immigration Authorities Arrest Hundreds in Raid on Nation’s Largest Kosher Meat Plant” [Forward]
(Photo: Getty Images)

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  1. dweebster says:

    Now THAT’S not kosher!

  2. SkokieGuy says:

    “You might have a harder time finding kosher meat in the coming weeks”

    Craigslist Hasidic Encounters M4M?

  3. BigElectricCat says:

    Oy!

    Glad I took advantage of a 2-for-1 sale on Hebrew Nationals last week at the supermarket.

  4. Coder4Life says:

    Hey I live in that state.. It’s been a huge story around here…

    The ICE team was here a few days before the raid and rented out a large amount of space. Most of those people were already scared that there was going to be a raid and they would nto say why they were there or anything.

    I think the company should also get into trouble and not just the illegals.

  5. That explains the blank drivers license I found ground in my hot dog.

  6. wgrune says:

    @Coder4Life:

    As a former resident of Iowa this doesn’t shock me at all. I used to work in Marshalltown and a similar thing happened in 2006 at the Swift meatpacking plant.

    It really chafes me when the illegals will hold up signs saying things like “we are not criminals”. Actually, you are a criminal. You are breaking numerous laws (identity theft included) which in legalese makes you a criminal. Just because you aren’t violent doesn’t mean you aren’t a criminal.

    Also, the only way this will ever stop is when the companies who employ illegals are fined for hiring them. $10,000 per worker sounds like a good starting point…

  7. hypnotik_jello says:

    guess they’ll get drugged up and shipped back to their own country:

    [www.washingtonpost.com]

    fun times

  8. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @wgrune: Yeah right, like jews have that kind of money!

    *ducks*

  9. Bye says:

    What does the Iowa Pork Queen have to say about this?

  10. azntg says:

    I know my opinion won’t sit well with the “anti-illegal immigration” crowd, but frankly, I think it’s only going to be a matter of time before our entire economy, livelihood and ultimately, the country grinds to a halt as we slowly pick on part of the foundation that supports the country.

    The sad reality is that some, if not many Americans (unfortunately, myself included) simply will never take up certain kind of jobs (call it pride or whatever you like), even if they were made available exclusively to us and some modest incentives were given to us. Only today’s illegal immigrants will gladly and graciously take it and help keep our economy flowing.

    The impression that I get from historical sources (1st person documents, 3rd person, you name it) is that the United States has primarily grown to where it is now, in part due to illegal immigration. It’s just that in the past, immigration wasn’t as strictly enforced on the whole (it was strict in some places, but not everywhere) and at least for the people that came through, they were seen as part of the status quo and life moved on.

    BTW, just for the record: my parents and grandparents immigrated here legally in the ’70′s and ’80′s (wasn’t easy, but they did it) and I was born and raised here in New York my whole life.

  11. whatdoyoucare says:

    OMG, they should video of how the animals and illegals were treated on the local news from this place. It is NASTY! Look at http://www.whotv.com under the Postville Agriprocessors Plant link. They had over 39 violations (more than all other Iowan processers combined). Incredibly gross.

  12. Leah says:

    @azntg: I agree. If we’re concerned about the illegal part, perhaps we should make it easier to come in here and get a provisional working permit for 5-10 years worth of work. Make it easy to get the provisional permit, and only take away the permit when the permit holder (or their kids) break the law. That way, we get rid of one major complaint people have — that illegal immigrants are a major source of crime — and still have workers for the low-pay jobs that we need filled domestically.

    Really, it’s either this, or we start buying everything from China. I’d much rather have immigrants working here than worry about the low level of oversight in foreign factories.

  13. dwneylonsr says:

    I’m sure that the rumor that the illegals were from Israel is not true.

  14. howie_in_az says:

    @dwneylonsr: Jose Levin? Pedro de la Stein?

  15. stinerman says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    I LOL’d

  16. stinerman says:

    @azntg:

    Not true. What you mean to say is that most Americans won’t do certain jobs for shit wages. I won’t pick tomatoes for min. wage, but I’ll gladly do it for $35/hr.

    John McCain famously said that Americans wouldn’t pick veggies for $50/hr. If someone offered me a job anywhere in the USA to do that work for $50/hr, I’d drop whatever I was doing and go move there to work. That’s $2000 per week before taxes. I don’t even make that in a month.

  17. lincolnparadox says:

    @wgrune: While I agree with you, if the government would just fine every business that used illegals, food production would grind to a halt and food prices would go through the roof. It’s not right, but it’s reality. I’d rather be able to eat meat and fruit and deal with the illegal immigration problem with some restraint.

    @Rey: Ask and ye shall receive: [bp2.blogger.com]

    “Reigning Iowa Pork Queen Rita Cook efficiently hands out the free pork burgers to a long line of hungry folks during the lunch hour.”

  18. + says:

    @stinerman: Why would you pick veggies for $50/hr when you could go to college, stay in the same business for a few years, and make a similar wage in your own comfortable area?

  19. katekate says:

    @azntg: I think that’s a fair assessment. The question of legality was much different a hundred years ago, because you could come here legally by showing up at, say, Ellis Island and signing in. It’s much harder to do that these days, and I’d argue rightfully so. I’m not one of those “TERRORISTS ARE EVERYWHERE OMG” people, but let’s face it, if we had the same open-door policy now that we had in 1900, we’d be in some shit (all other things remaining equal, of course).

    I live in North Carolina, and the state legislature recently passed a law saying that undocumented students could no longer attend community colleges, even though to do so before, they were paying out-of-state tuition (so the whole “but they’re not paying taxes!” thing didn’t matter). I think we’re talking about 200 students out of 300,000, and I have to ask, is it REALLY that much of a difference? Are we really denying these kids a chance to get good jobs and an education because THEIR PARENTS made a mistake by coming here illegally?

    It sets my blood boiling, I tell ya. /rant

  20. katekate says:

    @stinerman: You’re totally right, but our economy is also based on people getting paid shit wages for shit jobs, so I think the original argument assumes that those jobs that currently don’t pay much would continue not to pay much.

  21. glater says:

    @azntg:
    Actually, I disagree – those would be perfectly fine jobs for spoiled americans… if the working conditions weren’t so awful that only the folks who have nothing left to lose will take them. Back during the period of strong and meaningful(read: uncorrupted) labor unions, meatpacking wasn’t a bad way to make a living at least you could afford a house and a family. Then came union-busting, deregulation and “voluntary compliance” schemes, and it’s gone to hell. The money is shit, the working environment is dangerous and difficult due to the ever-increasing demand for speed, and the turnover hellacious.

    Make them jobs WORTH having again, and people will WANT to have them.

  22. SonicMan says:

    @azntg: I have to say that I am impressed that hyou used “Illegal Immigration”. Usually thouse on your side of this issue do not like to mention that.

    @stinerman: I would do it for $20.

    COmpanies are just too checp to pay a living wage. Heck, if I could avoid taxes as well, then tak 30% off that 20 an hour…..

  23. ahwannabe says:

    @SonicMan: I’d do it for $15. Beats the crap out of answering phones.

  24. baker2gs says:

    Kosher meat packing plants are pretty fucking nasty, which is why a lot of illegal immigrants work there. Some of the stuff I’ve read about the animals coming down the line still alive to be skinned and have other organs ripped out (since they have to rip their throats out and bleed out alive by Kosher rule).

    I also read that the management of these places come down on the employees because they don’t slaughter enough animals fast enough, then they just take it out on the animals. Meat packing is pretty fucked up in general. Plus in America we don’t want to see it because we don’t want to put a face with our meat.

    For some reason though I can’t get enough those Vienna Hot Dogs though. Maybe I should stock up… or switch to Ballpark?

  25. Ethel.Mertz says:

    How odd that they ‘passed-over’ the Tyson foods plant and struck AP-I’m even more curious about what may be going on at the nearby rest stop! Inquiring minds want to know…

  26. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @baker2gs:
    Vienna isn’t kosher, just all beef.
    There are kosher Ballpark Franks.
    They’re made at the Sinai/Best’s Kosher plant on Pershing Rd. in Chicago.
    All three brands are owned by Sara Lee as are several other brands of kosher meats.
    They also sell Aaron’s & Rubashkin’s glatt kosher products [don't ask, regular kosher ain't good enough for some ultra orthodox].
    I see them all when I go to the factory store there.
    The absolutely best & leanest corned beef & pastrami on earth!

  27. stinerman says:

    @Lamburger Helper:

    I’ve got a BS in Mathematics. I’m $40,000 in debt for it.
    Right now, I work part-time for $7/hr. It’s the best I can get.

    I don’t know if you were being facetious or something…I’ll take the veggie picking any day of the week.

  28. Parting says:

    Ouch, ouch, ouch.

    SEVEN HUNDRED???? Wow, it took them time to find this type of massive fraud

    @Lamburger Helper: You know, a lot of qualified people lost their jobs to massive ”lets go to India/China” move. I’ve met several engineers who’s out of work today, due to that kind of policy. And have to stick to low paying jobs, even if they used to do hundreds Ks a year.

  29. TheCommentator says:

    to Baker2gs

    from your comments it seems that you know very little about kosher slaughtering..

    the esofigus and the windpipe are both supposed to be sliced with a “Arch-Rabbi” that checks the knife with his nail to see that its perfectly sharp. otherwise it will not be kosher. and this is done precisley to remove the soul in a way that the animal will not feal any pain at all.. and all the animal is doing after it comes out of the door “in the video” is the “leftover nervs” that eventually drains out but you could be 100 percent positive that the animal is dead long before you see it “crawl”.
    BTW everyone knows why PETA emphesises what fits their agenda.

    and over at the non kosher plants they shoot, strangle and use all kinds ok kinky ways that if you knew you would not be able to eat meat fo a year. and they are never portrayed in the media for all the “Suffering” they cause to the animals…

    cheers

  30. baker2gs says:

    @TheCommentator:

    I can’t speak from experience, I’ve never slaughtered an animal before, let alone Kosher style but I don’t see how a “dead animal” can move around and make sounds like that. It seems to look alive to me.

    Nor have I ever had my esophagus and windpipe cut but I can’t foresee it being an instantaneous death.

    Non-Kosher plants shoot a bolt to the head to stun the animal first. Which if done incorrectly can result in a very fucked up situation as well.

    Both ways are messed up and we’re just talking about beef.

    Alas, I still eat it (Kosher or not). But for some reason I prefer to know how it goes from cow to steak/hot dog/hamburger.

    Now, how about that meth lab they had? – [jta.org]

  31. BlackFlag55 says:

    Illegal is illegal. If employers can break laws at will without consequence, I’d like to know which laws I get to break as I choose.

  32. ageshin says:

    These wide sweeps are not productive as they catch both legal and illegal workers. Social Security was not ment to be used for identification and is now being used in ways that it was never designed for. We are ripping our society apart. The real reason we have increased imagration is NAFTA. This free trade agrement has distroyed the small farmer in Mexico, sending them either to the cities, that have few jobs, or across the border. The real solution is not to be found in gestapo like raids, but in calling for messures for stimulating the Mexican economy. What we are seeing is the truly ugly side of our American dream.

  33. davethebutcher says:

    It has now hit us where it hurts, in the hot dog.

  34. Snowblind says:

    @davethebutcher: Oh god, I hate getting hit in the hot dog. What is next? Smashing our beans?

    Sorta off topic on outsourcing:

    Seriously, I wonder if we can use the new Polar Bear ESA ruling to say we can’t import anything from China. There goods release more CO2 than making it here. So we will just have to make it here instead where we can control the CO2 and Save the Polar Bears ™.

    Or maybe just fine the hell out of them… either way.

  35. Squeegoth says:

    @Lamburger Helper: Are you seriously that out of touch? Am I seriously getting this trolled? Come on, really? Have you met, like, people before?

  36. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @SonicMan:

    You and every fucking teenager in America. Seriously. Where I live we have 3-4 plant nurseries that pay minimum wage & that’s where the highschoolers generally go for jobs around here.

  37. forgottenpassword says:

    well, I dont know about the rest of the country, but people in the midwest WILL do jobs that illegals take (including meatpacking & crop picking). ANd its a BS argument that illegals only take the bottom of the barrel jobs. There are PLENTY of illegals working in the building trades industry & those are GOOD paying jobs that qualified & trained americans need.

    And btw… you know what farmers used to do before the massive influx of illegals? They would hire teens (ages anywhere from 13-18 years of age) to pick crops.

  38. heavylee-again says:

    I’m an illegal alien who used to work at that factory, so I’m getting a kick out of these replies.

  39. Erwos says:

    @baker2gs: The throat-ripping thing was actually a huge scandal in the Orthodox Jewish world when PETA released the video – they’re _not_ supposed to be doing that. You cut the animal’s throat, and then wait for it to die. After that, you start butchering it. Butcher it before that, and there are serious issues in Jewish law about whether that meat is even kosher.

    The illegal immigrant thing isn’t a surprise – I feel as if that story broke a while back. *shrugs* I haven’t had any problems finding kosher meat – Rubashkin’s isn’t the only game in town by a long shot.

  40. theblackdog says:

    @SkokieGuy: Well if they’re hung like the last Jewish guy I dated…

  41. @lincolnparadox: I disagree. I don’t think we should sacrifice our laws just so you can have your meat and fruit. I think the country would find a way to recover. I also think that there are a lot of unemployed Americans who could take over.

    I’d rather deal with the illegal immigration problem. The number of illegal immigrants in this country might directly relate to why we have food shortages. I think we could kill two birds with one stone.

  42. wgrune says:

    @LucasAnderson:

    Agreed.

    The problem with allowing people to work on extended visas is that they are living here, using our social services (in some cases more then others), and not dumping much of their earnings back into the economy. Many of these people will send every extra dollar they dont need to survive back across the border, or even move back in the “off-season”.

    So if you did get replace the illegals with american workers, even if you had to pay them slightly more, the difference would return through an uptick in the economy via increases in domestic spending. Like one gigantic economic stimulus check!

  43. Japheaux says:

    And don’t forget the potential ID theft issue…..some assclown stole my SS number and it took my US Senator’s action to get it straightened out. I am sure–really sure–no one wants to go through that nightmare. I still would like to meet the person who screwed me…and it may have been someone simply borrowing my SSN to get a job to feed their poor family. But it doesn’t give them the right to screw mine up. They are already stealing tax dollars for medical, housing, schooling, and legal help and many of us don’t realize a $5 tomato is cheap compared to the drain on our economy.

    Let’s be frank (sorry, couldn’t help it), if tomatoes went to $20 a pound because illegals aren’t picking them…everyone would quit eating tomatoes and growers would grow something else or pay someone more to pick them…OR, some very creative legal American would invent a way to pick tomatoes using robots. Last look we are still #1 in this world, no matter how much bad press this country gets and we didn’t get to be #1 by being held hostage in ‘what if’ scenarios.

  44. wgrune says:

    @Japheaux:

    Well said. The drain on the school systems is especially great. When I was in high school we had about 30-35 people per class. The english-as-a-second-language (ESL) class had 4 students with 2 teachers (it was a pretty rural high school, not a lot of diversity).

    Would I be able to illegally immigrate to France, enroll in their high school for free and expect them to teach me French? Somehow I doubt it…

  45. MrMold says:

    All those evilbig city dwellers don’t get it. They live in a very stratified environment and don’t have to interact with their disadvantaged classes socially. Here in Whitesylvania, many people live on jobs that the MSM media hold out as only fit for illegals. Then we mingle as the population is quite small. We know folks that would work for a packing plant, if the company would hire them. Something about parachutes and CEO needs prevents them. If Toyota can pay their CEO less, why can’t we?

    We focus on the poor illegals who likely have little choice. Let us look to the wealthy that had a choice and then we should place them in real jails, not the country clubs. A CEO under the current administration would take the risk as there is no downside. 30 years at Graterford (a PA prison) in the general pop, plus loss of all assets, plus steep and painful fines, plus no bankruptcy release, plus percentages to whistle-blowers would do wonders to inject honesty to our business class

  46. ahwannabe says:

    @Japheaux: I grow my own tomatoes, and I suppose once you add up all my labor plus fertilizers plus seeds, they’re probably close to $20 a pound. I don’t care, they’re damn good.

  47. crazydavythe1st says:

    Illegal immigration is one thing, but stealing the SSNs of hard working Americans goes way too far. Heck I had a wallet stolen a few years ago. Need a new driver’s license? You need a social security card. Need a new social security card? You need a birth certificate and either a driver’s license or passport. Don’t have a driver’s license or passport? You can use a student ID. Need a student id? Need a driver’s license. I’ve never had my identity stolen, but I imagine it’s this game to a whole new level.

    And the assumption that there are jobs that Americans don’t want and that they should go to illegals is COMPLETELY inaccurate. You see, the reality of this issue is that Americans want to work these jobs, but they want to be paid at least minimum wage, overtime after 40 hours, and they want some guarantee that they can take care of their family on their wage. There is absolutely no excuse or justification for having 30-70% (from the article) of your employees being illegal immigrants. That’s not empowering illegal immigrants, but taking advantage of them.

  48. dschwarz says:

    Animal slaughter is a nasty business no matter how it’s done, but Rubashkin has been in trouble for a while now based on allegations of mistreating workers, union-busting, mistreating animals (documented in PETA videos) and possible violations of kashrut. This has been extensively documented by The Forward and also at [failedmessiah.typepad.com]

    As a response the Conservative movement has been working on a new set of kosher certifications that encompass worker treatment and animal welfare (beyond the traditional kashrut standards)
    [www.google.com]

    Highly controversial – but I hope it succeeds.

    Don’t buy from Rubashkin.

  49. FrankReality says:

    One of the reports I read was that the plant started the illegals at $5 per hour and after 6 months the pay went up to $6 per hour.

    Problem with that was the minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25 per hour!

    So, absolutely the company should be severely fined by the Feds for hiring illegals and also by the state for labor/wage violations. Clearly they deliberately hired them.

    The people ICE was really looking for are the people who are creating false social security cards and fake driver’s licenses and charging hundreds of dollars for those false ids.

    In a somewhat related situation, KSTP-TV in Minneapolis St. Paul has been reporting on a fake id outfit running in Worthington MN, home of another meat packing plant. That plant was raided on the same day as several other Swift plants. Tonight, the reporter showed state records indicating 32 people with the same first/middle/last name all living in the same small town. After being embarrassed on TV by KSTP, the State of Minnesota is investigating duplicate names and the residents at the address where the ids were sent.

  50. tz says:

    After seeing Sweeny Todd, and noting there are a lot of “undocumented” people in this industry, if we might not have Mrs. Lovett’s Meat products going on. Adds new meaning to “Frank”.

  51. MissGayle says:

    AZNTG:

    When you get hungry enough, you will.