DES MOINES, Iowa - State officials say they're shocked by the sheer number of child labor violations uncovered at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, where nearly 400 workers were arrested during an Immigration raid in May.
… The state's investigation found dozens of violations from "virtually every aspect of Iowa's child labor laws," said Dave Neil the Iowa Labor Commissioner. Officials also said the scope of the case -- with 57 children involved -- makes it unusually large.
"Typically, when we have child labor issues it's an issue of one or two individuals," said Kerry Koonce, a spokeswoman for Iowa Workforce Development, which oversees the labor commissioner's office. "From our point of view, with this investigation, it's a large-scale violation of the law."
Labor officials said their investigation spanned several months and began before a May 12 federal Immigration raid at Agriprocessors. The raid resulted in 389 arrests and was the largest in U.S. history.
… Labor officials said the violations included minors working in prohibited occupations, exceeding allowable hours for youth to work, failure to obtain work permits, exposure to hazardous chemicals and working with prohibited tools. Under Iowa law, it is illegal for children under the age of 18 to work in a meatpacking plant.
Neil said he was recommending "that the attorney general's office prosecute these violations to the fullest extent of the law."
Officials say they are still investigating possible wage violations at the plant.
Juda Engelmayer, an Agriprocessors spokesman, declined immediate comment on the labor officials' announcement.
While the announcement of these charges will provide little solace to those illegally charged with criminal activity and held in prison, the hundreds of children left behind to a life of uncertainty, or those at the forefront of the humanitarian effort to care for a community ravaged by the overzealous overreach of the Department of Homeland Security and a corrupted justice system, at least those who are the only true criminals in this sad case will finally be held accountable for some of their despicable actions.