Landscaping businesses that are facing a severe labor shortage and increased demand for services are sweating over the federal government’s June 5 arrest of 114 illegal immigrant workers in Ohio, the Associated Press reported.
People in the industry believe the raids will make it tougher to persuade Congress to allow more foreign workers into America for seasonal jobs.
“I believe most of us are doing things the right way, but every company is going to be worried that they’re going to be raided,” said Joe Drake, who runs JFD Landscapes in Chardon, Ohio.
Drake spent the past week in Chicago meeting with other seasonal employers to create a strategy to persuade Congress to ease restrictions on H2-B temporary visas. This year, a federal lottery for the first time determined which employers would get their allotment, initially capped at 66,000 workers until the Department of Homeland Security announced it would allow another 15,000 additional visas.
The agents carried out raids at two separate locations of Corso’s Flower and Garden Center — one in Sandusky and the other in Castalia, The Tennessee Star reported last week. It was one of the largest such stings in years.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it expected criminal charges including identity theft and tax evasion, PBS Newshour reported.
No criminal charges have been filed against Corso’s, but the employer is under investigation, authorities told PBS. Two locations were searched, and Khaalid Walls, an agency spokesman, said “a large volume of business documents” were seized.
The large-scale operation, assisted by aerial surveillance, is part of the Trump administration’s increasing focus on employers that hire people in the country illegally, one that took hold about a year after the president took office, and came months after a surge in deportation arrests began.