Before he withdrew from consideration as President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the nation’s intelligence community, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) cited a massive roundup of immigrant workers at poultry plants in 2008 as a career highlight. Ratcliffe claimed that as a federal prosecutor in the 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 says on his website. A closer look at the case shows that Ratcliffe’s claims conflict with the court record and the recollections of others, the Washington Post reports. Ratcliffe played a supporting role in the 2008 sweep, which involved U.S. Attorneys in five states and was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said a Justice Department news release. The effort targeted workers at poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride suspected of using stolen Social Security numbers.
Only 45 workers were charged by Ratcliffe’s office. Six of those cases were dismissed, two because the suspects turned out to be U.S. citizens. Two people involved in the enforcement effort said they could not recall Ratcliffe playing a central role. A.J. Irwin, a former immigration investigator who was involved in the early planning stages before retiring, said the operation was a costly failure. “At the end of the day, it did not deliver,” Irwin said. “It was the biggest waste of money and hype.” Ratcliffe’s background came under scrutiny since Trump said he plans to nominate him to replace Daniel Coats, a former senator and diplomat who was often at odds with the president. Ratcliffe has dialed back claims that he won convictions in a high-profile terrorism case as a federal prosecutor. On Friday, Trump announced that Ratcliffe would not take the intelligence job but would remain in Congress.