Local dairy farmers and workers concerned after ICE arrests in W - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Local dairy farmers and workers concerned after ICE arrests in Washington County

Posted: Updated:
Cows at Ripp's Dairy Valley in Dane. Cows at Ripp's Dairy Valley in Dane.

MADISON (WKOW) --- Following a nationwide crackdown earlier this week -- 21 arrests at about 100 7-11 stores in 17 states -- immigration agents arrested three people in Wisconsin Friday. Two at dairy farms.

Undocumented immigrants make up a large portion of the workforce on dairy farms in the state. And farmers who employ immigrant workers are feeling a level of anxiety amid the crackdown.

"It's always in the back of our minds as dairy owners and farm owners,” Chuck Ripp said while tending to his herd.

His farm, Ripp's Dairy Valley, employs 10 migrant workers.

“I would say 70% to 80% of farms have a migrant worker working for them or helping them in some area,” Ripp said.

He said all his workers have the necessary documents to work in the United States. But he can't help but feel somewhat uneasy after hearing about the arrests in Washington County.

“That anytime someone could show up and just tell us information that we're not aware of. We believe we have true information from the workers that were employing.”

Ripp said the immigration issue is like the elephant in the room at his farm. His workers don't like to discuss it openly.

“But there's no doubt they see the news, they read the headlines, they hear different things about other farms. And it may be three states over. It may be right here in Wisconsin.”

ICE spokesperson Nicole Alberico said the arrests at the Washington County dairy farm were individuals targeted for immigration violations.

“They had run-ins with the criminal justice system,” Alberico said. “There are no planned raids on dairy farms.”

Still, Ripp is concerned about his farm as well as his workers.

“Obviously they're worried too. This is their livelihood. The money that they make here at the dairy farms is for them. And most of it is sent home to their families where they have little or nothing. So they really work hard for that.”

Powered by Frankly