U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested more than 100 employees at an Ohio gardening and landscaping company on Tuesday. The 114 arrests happened at Corso’s Flower & Garden Center locations in Sandusky and Castalia.
ICE officials told reporters the agency expected to file criminal charges against the workers, including identity theft and tax evasion. No criminal charges have been filed against the company, a member of the Society of American Florists, but the employer is under investigation, according to news reports.
According to The New York Times, the situation Tuesday at Corso’s was notable for the government’s “heavy show of force that involved aircraft surveillance and a large contingent of federal agents to round up workers.” Immigration officials have recently increased audits of companies. According to Times’ estimates, “there were 2,282 employer audits opened between Oct. 1 and May 4, nearly a 60 percent jump from the 1,360 audits opened between October 2016 and September 2017.”
Corso’s, a family business, serves seven states with a 160,000-square-foot greenhouse and additional 200,000 square feet to grow perennials.
At press time, E-Brief editors had not heard back from Corso’s.
Shawn McBurney, senior director of government relations for the Society of American Florists, said more enforcement by ICE is possible, especially since the current immigration system is deeply flawed.
“SAF has for years lobbied for common sense solutions to the current system, including the creation of a program through which employers can obtain an adequate, stable and legal workforce,” he added. “During Congressional Action Days in March, SAF members highlighted the problem with the current immigration and workforce system with members of Congress. Among other things, we urged lawmakers to create a new system, one through which these kinds of raids, which harm employers and our economy, don’t take place.