[JURIST] Some 270 illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive] arrested during a US immigration sting at an Agriprocessors Inc. [corporate website] meatpacking plant in Iowa, were each sentenced to five months in prison [ICE press release] and 27 more received probation after pleading guilty to the use of false immigration documents, the New York Times reported Saturday. In what federal officials called the largest operation of its kind, the 297 workers made their pleas over the course of just four days in temporary courtrooms at a local fairgrounds. The Times noted it is uncommon for illegal immigrants to face criminal prosecution as opposed to civil charges and deportation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association [advocacy website] criticized the government for severity of the charges and alleged breaches of due process for the accused [letter, PDF], but court-appointed defense lawyers for the workers said their clients were motivated to accept the deals rather than face more severe charges that would have carried minimum two-year sentences.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website], the agency that carried out the raid on the plant, has also arrested more than 900 illegal immigrants in California [ICE press release] over the past three weeks, the agency said on Friday. That sting was targeted at 495 people who had ignored deportation orders, but several hundred other illegal immigrants were also found during operation. AP has more.