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Immigration agency targets Worthington

Associated Press

WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Immigration agents are conducting an enforcement action in Worthington, but officials said it’s targeted to individuals and not like the roundup more than a year ago of workers at the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "does not conduct random sweeps ... we are targeting specific individuals," spokeswoman Gail Montenegro told the Daily Globe newspaper.

Montenegro told the newspaper more information would be available after the operation is concluded but did not say when that would be.

ICE arrested 225 individuals during a four-day, six-state operation that ended Monday. States involved were Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.

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In December 2006, ICE arrested 230 workers at the Swift plant in Worthington, as part of a much larger multi-state raid of the company’s plants. The agency’s presence back in the city was making some people in the local Hispanic community nervous, said Sister Mary Thein of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, who works with the Hispanic population.

"There was a lot of fear," Thein said.

Mayor Allan Oberloh, an outspoken proponent of reforming the country’s immigration laws, said he wasn’t notified that agents would be in the city.

"The people against ICE being here will still be against them, the people for immigration reform will say ‘yes, it’s about time,"’ he said. "I don’t think anybody’s minds have changed."

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