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Over 100 Naples immigrants arrested during employment raid

Most immigrants who come to Florida do so in the hope of building a better future for themselves and their families. They may face a long road of challenges and setbacks, including barriers to employment, medical care, education and housing. Some may experience difficulty finding or keeping a job, especially if they lack the proper work permits. Before obtaining the right to legally work in the U.S., the topic of employment immigration may also worry immigrants in regards to deportation.

This concern was recently brought to light, showing that immigrants without legal work documentation may face serious consequences. Last July in Naples, immigration officials raided a fruit company packinghouse and put more than 100 foreign workers under arrest. Florida Division of Insurance Fraud officials alleged that the employees committed workers’ compensation fraud and used stolen or false Social Security numbers to gain employment at the plant.

The officials asserted the employees provided false identification to their prospective employers, a third-degree felony in Florida. The employees have pled not guilty. Immigration rights advocates, as well as attorneys for the workers, claim that the state committed faulty arrests. Instead, they say, the agency should not have gone after the workers over their employers. Immigration advocates are asking the state to dismiss the charges against the immigrants, citing a similar case two years ago in St. Lucie County, in which charges against immigrants ended up being thrown out.

Some immigrants may not fully understand their responsibilities in regards to worker immigration, including having an employment visa or other documentation giving them the right to work in the country without facing retribution. Therefore, it is important that they have advocates to stand up for their rights if a problem arises.

Source: WGCU News, "Workers In Naples Immigration Raid Plead Not Guilty," Ashley Lopez, Aug. 11, 2014

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