President Trump’s choice to lead the nation’s intelligence community often cites a massive roundup of immigrant workers at poultry plants in 2008 as a highlight of his career. Rep. John Ratcliffe claims that as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Texas, he was the leader of the immigration crackdown, describing it as one of the largest cases of its kind.
“As a U.S. Attorney, I arrested over 300 illegal immigrants on a single day,” Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) says on his congressional website.
But a closer look at the case shows that Ratcliffe’s claims conflict with the court record and the recollections of others who participated in the operation — at a time when he is under fire for embellishing his record.
Ratcliffe played a supporting role in the 2008 sweep, which involved U.S. attorneys’ offices in five states and was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, according to a Justice Department news release. The effort targeted workers at poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride who were suspected of using stolen Social Security numbers.
Only 45 workers were charged by prosecutors in Ratcliffe’s office, court documents show. Six of those cases were dismissed, two of them because the suspects turned out to be American citizens. One of those citizens, a 19-year-old woman, was awakened in her home and hauled away by immigration agents, the woman said in an interview.
Two people involved in the planning or execution of the enforcement effort said they could not recall Ratcliffe playing a central role.