A Minnesota plastic film plant won't be charged for employing illegal immigrants, according to a U.S. Immigration and Naturaliza-tion Service official. Twenty-two illegal workers were arrested at Up North Plastics Inc. of Cottage Grove on May 22, said Dean Hove, deputy director of the INS Bloomington office. Hove, in a telephone interview, said Up North officials cooperated with an INS investigation.
Steven Ross, owner and president of Up North, said the illegal workers had ``great forgeries'' for employment documents. The employees, all males, had been at the plant for about a year. Up North employed them after they responded to help-wanted ads that Up North regularly runs.
Ross said no production problem resulted from the INS raid. Up North has ``a few hundred'' workers and should be able to replace the illegal workers easily since they mostly were in unskilled jobs. INS officials believe most of the workers were Mexican. They began to investigate Up North employees a few months ago after receiving a tip from an undisclosed source.
It is difficult to detect illegal immigrants when they carry well-crafted, forged documents, Ross said. ``About 5-10 percent of companies in this country probably have this problem [of illegal employment].''
Hove said Ross' estimate may be low.
``A lot of employers would be truly surprised at the extent of the problem,'' he said.
Ross is also the owner and president of Poly-America Inc., a Grand Prairie, Texas, film extruder that had estimated sales of $150 million in 1994.