Immigration agents raided 6 Swift & Co. meat packing plants in 6 states and rounded up over a thousand people. The result? Large numbers of US citizens queued up in line to get the new job openings created by round-up of illegals.
GREELEY - The line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by undocumented workers taken away by immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant earlier this week was out the door Thursday.
We keep getting told there are jobs we won't do. We keep getting lied to by companies and lobbyists who just want to pay less to get the work done.
Swift plants were raided in Hyrum Utah, Worthington Minnesota, Greeley Colorado, Grand Island Nebraska, Cactus Texas, and Marshalltown Iowa.
OMAHA - Fewer Hispanic immigrants are being hired to replace meatpacking workers arrested at Swift & Co. plants in Grand Island and Greeley, Colo., during last week's immigration raid, union officials said Tuesday.
Local 22 union president Dan Hoppes said Tuesday that 40 to 50 new workers have been hired at the Grand Island plant since the raids.
“The lion's share of those people were Caucasian,” Hoppes said.
Washington, D.C. — The arrest of workers at meatpacking giant Swift & Co. — the largest such raid in U.S. history — shows that the government is serious about cracking down on illegal immigration, officials say.
This time, federal agents were armed with criminal charges, accusing some workers of identification theft and forgery, and disrupted not just one work site but an entire company. Arrested were 1,282 Swift workers, about 9 percent of the work force at six plants.
The Feds were asking Swift for employee records in the months leading up to the raids. Swift started interviewing employees about whether they are here legally and managed to scare off or fire 400 illegals before the Feds did a formal raid.
About 400 workers were fired or left the plants voluntarily in the fall after Swift demanded interviews of workers it suspected of being in the country illegally. Immigration officials criticized Swift for not notifying the government that the employees had left. The agency has been unable to find them.
You have to figure that during this time Swift also became pickier about who they hired. So the 400 departures probably understates how much their work force shifted toward legal workers before the raid. Also, some workers were sick, on vacation, or not working the shift when the raids happened. So many got away.
The departure of 400 illegal workers before the raid was enough to raise salaries by $1.95 per hour. Maybe the raid will force salaries up by another $1 per hour.
The United Food and Commercial Workers filed grievances over the company’s interviews, although after the workers left, the Marshalltown plant raised its starting wage from $9.55 to $11.50 in an attempt to fill the vacancies, said Jim Olesen, the union’s local president.
Meanwhile in Nebraska, union officials said Tuesday that 40 to 50 workers had been hired at the Grand Island plant, one of six Swift plants raided by the ICE in a sweep that led to nearly 1,300 arrests. And funny thing — they say Swift has been improving its wages, benefits and bonuses since before the raids.
As United Food and Commercial Workers spokeswoman Jill Cashen told the Associated Press: "They're trying to staff up their plants, and they've been raising their wages the past few weeks."
It's not clear at this writing if Swift saw the raids coming. What's clear is that its upgraded compensation is drawing more non-Hispanic white job-seekers, who made up most of the new hires at Grand Island.
Consider this: Swift & Co. executives have said they tried to work with immigration officials to prevent the raid and that - once they became aware of government interest in their work force in March - conducted internal interviews of employees.
More than 400 workers left the company. According to Swift's general counsel, at one point, Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators asked company officials to stop the interviews - which probably alerted workers a sweep was coming.
So Swift managed to scare off a few hundred illegals since they knew the feds were watching. To compensate Swift had to raise salaries by a couple of bucks an hour. But their processing plants did not stop running. The new salaries are still too low to buy medical insurance for a family. The jobs are difficult and unappealing. Yet they only need to offer $11.50 per hour to get them filled. The argument that the US economy can't operate without illegal alien labor is a big lie.
Here is a familiar pattern: Immigration law enforcement is causing many more illegals to self-deport before they get caught.
That's where a half-dozen processing plants between Worthington and Madelia employ hundreds of immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic.
"They're afraid to go to the bank, to the stores," Amaya said. "They don't take their things. They just pick up and go, and it's hard, because they work really hard."
Hours after the Worthington raid, much of the city's Hispanic community, estimated at 3,500 people -- about half of whom are thought to be in the country illegally -- began clearing out.
After 9/11 more intense immigration law enforcement caused tens of thousands of Pakistani illegals to deport themselves back to Pakistan before they got caught.
Worthington police Sgt. Kevin Flynn said officers frequently encounter the problem while responding to calls or making traffic stops. Illegal workers would identify themselves by their real names, but also carried documentation stolen from U.S. citizens.
"They'd just be real upfront with us," Flynn said. "And the documents they had were actual documents. They weren't forgeries or fakes of any kind. They were the real deal."
By Tuesday night, immigration agents had arrested 230 workers at the Swift plant. But Andrade and others in the community say maybe twice as many workers fled town, or plan to leave soon, to avoid the risk of being arrested.
Tens of thousands of people work in meat packing plants in the United States. They could all enjoy higher salaries, better benefits, and better working conditions if the Tyson, Swift, and Cargill had no more access to labor from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 December 23 12:12 PM Immigration Economics|