Minnesota pork producer: Immigration raids a surprise

Published 10:56 pm Friday, August 10, 2018

SLEEPY EYE — A large southern Minnesota pork producer said Thursday it was surprised by an immigration raid on three of its sites and that a third-party vendor may have been to blame.

Christensen Farms was among about a dozen businesses raided by federal immigration officials Wednesday. The investigative arm of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement led the operation.

Search warrants were served at Christensen Farms’ headquarters in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, its truck wash facility in Appleton, Minnesota and a producer plant in Atkinson, Nebraska.

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“We were surprised and disappointed to learn that one of our third party vendors is not in compliance with immigration policies,” spokeswoman Amber Portner said. “At Christensen Farms, we have an expectation that all of partners and third party vendors uphold the same high standards as our company.”

Christensen Farms is one of the largest pork producers in the country, with nearly 1,000 employees and farms in several Midwest states, the Star Tribune reported.

In a statement Thursday, Portner said company officials “value our diverse workforce and those that work hard every day to put food on the table here in the U.S., and across the globe.”

Although school is not in session, Sleepy Eye Public Schools Superintendent John Cselovszki said school officials had not identified any families as being affected by the immigration arrests.

About 15 percent of the 3,500 residents of Sleepy Eye, 110 miles (177 kilometers) southwest of Minneapolis, are Hispanic. Cselovszki said the district employed a bilingual liaison who is prepared to serve students or families who come forward.

Activist Brad Sigal of the Minnesota Immigration Rights Action Committee called the raid “cruel and unnecessary.” President Donald Trump’s administration has been carrying out immigration enforcement actions against employers.

“This is just one more attack on the workers, whose lives are going to be dramatically worsened by this,” Sigal said.