President Trump issued his first prison commutation on Wednesday to a man whose business was captured by employing 389 illegal immigrants in a single shift, discouraging defenders of illegal immigration and a former prosecutor in the case.
With Trump's infrequent use of clemency, Sholom Rubashkin left the prison seven years in a 27-year sentence.
"I was up to my hips in illegal immigration," said Robert Teig, a former Assistant US Attorney who was involved in Rubashkin's prosecution. Before his conviction, Rubashkin oversaw operations at Agriprocessors, his father's company and one of the largest kosher meat producers in the country.
A 2008 raid on meat packing facilities in Iowa resulted in the mbad arrest of workers, many of whom were convicted of using false documents and deported. Later, the company went bankrupt and prosecutors withdrew immigration charges to focus on bank fraud and money laundering offenses.
"The government went into one of the shifts, there were two or three shifts," Teig said. "The rest of the illegal workforce did not appear after that and that was what caused the failure of the business, he built his business behind the backs of illegal immigrants."
ABC News reported that the arrest was "the largest individual search of a workplace in the history of the United States." But it is too late for Rubashkin to be tried for immigration-related crimes because of a statute of limitations. limitations of five years.
In announcing the first commutation of Trump's prison, the White House cited the support of members of Congress from both sides who lobbied for a commutation, including the minority leader of the House, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz personally asked Trump to give the commutation and a group of former attorneys general backed the claims that Rubashkin was an unfairly harsh sentence.
Prosecutors said Rubashkin had "cheated a bank and others out of the bank." An amazing amount of money: more than $ 26 million. " His conviction on 86 federal charges was confirmed on appeal.
"Clearly this is a bad optic, this guy really is an exploiter of illegal immigrants, not to mention a criminal in a variety of ways," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors controls of stricter immigration.
Krikorian said he hopes the Trump administration will compensate Rubashkin's clemency by "arresting more employers of illegal immigrants and testing and locking them up," although he is not sure if it will happen.
Ira Mehlman, media director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which seeks to reduce immigration, also became disillusioned.
"This guy was the protagonist of all the abuses that have taken place because of our nation's inability to enforce immigration laws," he said.
"There was not" It is not an ethical or moral code that has not been violated, "said Mehlman." It must be badumed that the president of the United States, when he issues a commutation, has all the facts in front of him, but you you never know. "
White House spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment on whether Trump knew that Rubashkin was one of the main employers of illegal immigrants.
The Justice Department did not comment on whether the pardon was First investigated by the Office of the Solicitor of Forgiveness
"I bet donuts on donors not to ask prosecutors," said Teig, who said that Rubashkin's supporters "from the beginning undertook a concerted campaign of dishonesty."  Teig said Rubashkin laundered money through charities for years and made unfounded claims of anti-Semitism against prosecutors. "All the judges who knew the facts rejected They made their claims, so they obviously had to take their campaign outside, "he said.
The former prosecutor said he does not believe that Rubashkin's claims were unaware of the workers' legal status, saying: The company was notified that the Social Security numbers of the employees matched those of other people.
"People call them undocumented workers, they were not undocumented, they had false documents … I knew the documents were false," Teig said. .
An attorney who represented Rubashkin, Guy Cook, said Rubashkin was not as guilty as he seems.
"Rubashkin had labor attorneys reviewing the veracity of employee documents before the raid," Cook said. "Anyway, the government dismissed the immigration charges, the charges were just that, charges and proof of nothing."
Cook said that "Rubashkin was working to correct any problems" and that his lawyer "requested a meeting with ICE days before the raid to address the problems [and] ICE refused to respond and proceeded with the military-style attack "
Cook said that "the only immigration-related case that went to trial-alleged violations of child labor-resulted in a total acquittal" at a trial in state court. The defense argued that Rubashkin did not know that some employees were children.
"President Trump must be congratulated for listening to the remarkable bipartisan group of members of Congress and more than a hundred former senior justice officials calling for the release of Rubashkin," Cook added. . "The 27-year sentence imposed for alleged bank fraud, essentially borrowing more money than was allowed to borrow from his father's company, was unfair, unfair and essentially life imprisonment."
"President Trump did the right thing and it had nothing to do with illegal immigration," Cook said.
Trump, an energetic critic of illegal immigration, used his clemency powers only once. In August, he pardoned immigration politician Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff convicted of contempt for defying a judge's orders on immigration enforcement.
Trump did not respond to a question twice on Thursday night while walking to the Oval Office he knew that Rubashkin employed hundreds of illegal immigrants.
Teig, the former prosecutor, said that although he was personally outraged, he doubts the matter remains in the public debate.
"It's a case of influence peddling, and in a week it will go away because the real events will be ignored," he said. "In fact, he had no way of avoiding what he earned with his prayer, so he had to influence , and it's sad to see that. "