Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids at Swift meatpacking facilities in six states in December resulted in the arrest of nearly 1,300 suspected illegal aliens, including many who may also be charged with document fraud and identity theft. The raid may also result in legal difficulties for Swift executives, who face potential government prosecution as well as lawsuits filed by former employees who allege that the company deliberately hired illegal aliens in an effort to depress wages for American workers.
The stepped-up effort to bust companies that have flagrantly violated laws against hiring illegal aliens appears to be motivated not by a desire on the part of the Bush administration to enforce immigration laws, but rather to ratchet up pressure to enact an amnesty and expanded guest worker program. In announcing the actions taken against Swift, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stated that the raid highlighted the need for an increase in guest workers, which he claimed would alleviate the demand for illegal aliens.
Within a few days of the raids, Chertoff’s assertions were proven false. Reports from Greeley, Colorado, site of one of the Swift plants target by ICE, indicated that American workers began lining up to replace the illegal aliens who had been working there. Like most of the other jobs that President Bush and others argue Americans will not do, the response of people in Greeley and elsewhere proves that Americans are eager to take those jobs, if they are afforded the opportunity to work for living wages.
Similarly, 18 former employees at Swift’s Cactus, Texas, facility filed a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) suit against Swift, alleging that the company’s policy of hiring illegal aliens was a deliberate effort to depress their wages. The plaintiffs claim that as a result of Swift’s pattern and practice of hiring illegal workers, wages have dropped from about $20 an hour to about $12 an hour.
The use of RICO suits against employers who knowingly use illegal alien labor in order to depress workers’ wages was first initiated by Chicago-based attorney Howard Foster, who has worked closely with FAIR in efforts to hold such employers accountable. All of the federal appellate courts that have considered the issue have validated the use of “alien-smuggling” RICO litigation by private parties, and several favorable monetary settlements have been achieved by US workers and businesses harmed by the employment of unauthorized aliens.
In addition to the 1,282 people detained on suspicion of being in the U.S. illegally, 220 face charges for using fraudulent documents and identity theft. The sale of fraudulent documents is alleged to have taken place right on the premises of the Swift facilities.
When will companies like Swift,and more of the general public,start to realize how serious of a problem this is!?