Chicago bakery loses one-third of staff to immigration raids

Chicago bakery loses one-third of staff to immigration raids
A Chicago, Illinois bakery that makes McDonald’s hamburger buns is struggling after a third of its workers were detained by immigration enforcement. The company is facing pressure to raise wages in order to attract replacements.

About 800, or 35 percent, of the workers at Cloverhill Bakery had to be replaced, reported Bloomberg News, citing the Zurich-based Aryzta AG. The company makes baked goods for fast-food chains and supermarkets. The workers were supplied by a job-placement agency that faced federal audits earlier this year.

“It’s proceeding very, very slowly because it’s like having a brand new factory and a brand new workforce,” CEO Kevin Toland said on a call with analysts. “That’s presenting a lot of challenges, as you can imagine.”

Toland said the raid of Cloverhill caused the company to face pressure to raise wages and challenges in retaining staff. The raid also led to a 7 percent decline in sales in North America in the quarter ending in October, and will eventually lead to higher consumer prices.

In the first six months of President Donald Trump’s administration there was a spike in the number of immigrants arrested by federal agents in Chicago. Data from the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) revealed an approximate 30 percent increase in arrests and deportations in Chicago compared to the end of the Obama administration.

“It’s been basically emergency after emergency for most of the year,” Tania Unzueta, a Chicago activist with the national Mijente organization, a Latino organizing group, told the Chicago Tribune. “From immigration raids to members of our organization being called to do check-ins and really not knowing whether they could be detained or deported.”

The Chicago Immigration Court has 24,844 pending cases in its system as of this spring, according to the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. That is up from 13,000 pending cases in 2010. Nationally, the pending caseload has doubled since 2011.

According to EOIR, total orders for removal between Trump’s inauguration and the close of the fiscal year hit 63,634. At the end of fiscal year 2017, some 1,940 people were detained in Chicago, up from 1,669 at the end of the prior year. Most of them are of Mexican descent, statistics show.

The Trump administration set in motion sweeping changes in how the federal government dealt with those living in the US illegally. It is estimated there are 11 million immigrants living the US without legal status.  

A January 25 executive order dispatched more than 100 immigration judges to immigration jails across the US. Nine of every 10 cases heard have led to federal orders to leave the US.

Trump’s order also expanded the list of deportation priorities to include any noncitizen who is charged with a criminal offense of any kind, or who is suspected of committing criminal acts, fraud or willful dishonesty while interacting with immigration officials. This is in addition to those who are subject to a pending order of removal, or have been previously deported and reentered the country.