On June 5, 2018, more than 100 workers at an Ohio gardening and landscaping company were arrested when U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents carried out what is reported as one of the largest workplace immigration raids in recent years. Approximately 114 undocumented immigrant employees were arrested during the mass raid of Corso's Flower and Garden Center in Sandusky and Castalia, Ohio. “It was the largest in our region in the last decade," stated Khaalid Walls, spokesman for ICE's Northeastern region, which comprises Michigan, Ohio, and Upstate New York.
According to the Associated Press, “the operation was part of the White House’s increasing focus on businesses that hire people in the country illegally amid a broad range of immigration crackdowns under President Donald Trump that include stepped-up deportations, targeting of sanctuary cities and zero-tolerance border policies.”
NPR revealed that, “the investigation into Corso's began in October 2017 after border patrol agents arrested a woman running a document forgery business. She led authorities to the landscaping stores, where officials said they found irregularities in employee files, including Social Security numbers belonging to deceased people.”
CNN reported “in October 2017, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tom Homan said he ordered the investigative unit of ICE to increase work site enforcement actions by as much as fivefold.” At that time Homan said, "We've already increased the number of inspections in work site operations, you will see that significantly increase this next fiscal year." CNN noted that, “Homan also said that those actions would target both the employers and the employees in violation of immigration law.”
There has been a spike in immigration enforcement on a national level and New York has experienced this increase as ICE announced its agents had arrested 225 people across the New York City area in a six-day crackdown in mid-April. The increase in ICE raids and arrests has not come without scrutiny, especially among immigrant advocacy groups who claim that as a result of the arrests, many children have been left homeless and stranded.
As of now, no criminal charges have been filed against Corso’s but an investigation is still ongoing. ICE officials have announced that some of the workers arrested in the Corso’s raid have been released for a variety of humanitarian reasons including health or care of a minor child.