Immigration Crackdown May Pose Problems for Shippers

“In a nationwide operation that encompassed 26 states, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement swept down on 40 locations of Amsterdam-based IFCO Systems, one of the nations largest supplier of pallets and reusable plastic containers for retail customers,” reports immigration blog Migra Matters. “The fact that Wednesday’s raids resulted in more apprehensions in one day than the total number of immigration violators arrested in all of 2005 and that the number of criminal employer cases presented for prosecution dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003, Chertoff’s actual willingness and ability to follow through is in doubt.”

For Long Beach-area businesses ICE’s raids may actually trickle-down to the bottom line. IFCO handles more than 60 million wooden pallets annually and “operates a pool of more than 87 million RPCs (Reusable Plastic Containers) globally, which are used primarily to transport fresh produce from producers to leading grocery retailers.” (source) Hard numbers are difficult to obtain from industry groups, but the raids against IFCO may manifest in a shortage of both wood pallets and RPCs.

Between cargo through the Ports, produce through LAX and California’s monolithic high-value agriculture industry, d isruptions in the supply of pallets and RPC is likely to be felt here, if anywhere. IFCO has plants in Bakersfield, Oakley and Riverside.