Michigan plant put on ICE 

Criminals aren’t the only sneaks.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pulled a fast one on illegal immigrants working in a Mount Clemens auto supply plant.

Upon inspection of employee records, ICE (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services), put the chill on 40 Mexican workers who were illegally employed at Powder Cote II, a company that uses chemicals to create paints for automobile manufacturers. The company, which employs 280 people, became the first business in Michigan selected for participation in a national audit of companies that work with chemicals that may be a threat to the public.

ICE officials grew suspicious of Powder Cote employees whose Social Security numbers failed to check out. But instead of swooping in and rounding up the suspects outright, they had the company call a phony meeting about health insurance, and arrested the suspects there.

The illegal workers obtained jobs using false documentation. Powder Cote owner Charlie Trott says the company didn’t know how to verify the authenticity of the documents. But ICE sure did. Some of the arrested workers were deported. Others requested voluntary hearings, to which they are entitled, says John Flannigan, assistant special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Flannigan says that ICE went to the chemical plant as part of an effort looking at companies that produce toxic chemicals. The national audits have come as a result of Sept. 11. Powder Cote happened to be the first one in Michigan.

“We audit places that pose a threat to safety and security to American people,” says Flannigan. “We also are going to places with dangerous materials. We audited thousands of businesses in Michigan in critical industries.”

The audits focus on employee records and key company work practices, he says.

The big question is whether Michigan residents are safer now. News Hits suspects the answer to that question is, “Nada.”

Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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