From eater.com, a food and restaurant site:
How Immigration Raids Destroy the Lives of Food Workers
Comparing the tactics of Trump’s administration to the Bush era
by Tove Danovich | March 16, 2017, 2:02pm EDT
On February 22, 2017, exactly 55 unauthorized workers¹ went missing from Mississippi restaurants after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE) raided the businesses. Two days later, the Jackson Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reported “their locations have not been disclosed and their futures are uncertain,” and since, 11 of the 55 have been charged. Just a week before the Mississippi raids, ICE also raided Pennsylvania’s Aroma Buffet & Grill and took four employees into custody, causing the restaurant to close for two weeks due to a lack of staffing. Immigrants working from farm to table are now wondering whether their time in the United States could be coming to an end.
“There is great fear among farmworker communities where as much as 70 percent of farmworkers are undocumented,” says Bruce Goldstein, president of advocacy group Farmworker Justice. “Children are coming home from school in tears asking if their families are going to be broken up.” Deportation is devastating to families, he adds, especially when so many have put down roots and lived in the U.S. for decades. “It sends a chill through the entire community.”
In restaurants, even workers with legal papers are nervous. “Ever since the rumors started that raids are happening again, everyone’s been very cautious, careful, and scared of what could happen,” says Felipe Donnelly, chef and owner of New York’s Comodo and Colonia Verde. “During these raids there’s a sense of loss of any rights you have — that’s the scary part.” What if there’s a raid and a legal worker doesn’t have his papers on him? “You’re going to assume I’m here illegally and take me down anyways,” Donnelly says. “That’s not something you want to feel on top of you constantly.”
Then maybe, if you are a legal immigrant, you ought to have your documents on hand! If I am doing something which requires documentation of my privilege to do so, such as driving my truck, I am legally required to carry my driver’s license on me. If you are an immigrant, working at a job which requires documentation of your legal right to do so, then you had better have your documents on you, and your employer had better have your completed Immigration Form I-9 on file.
Immigration raids have been making headlines across the country for the past month. But as previous instances of immigration enforcement have shown, removing people from their communities has a much larger effect than simple labor shortages or temporary restaurant closures. Here’s a look at how raids have affected the food community in the past and how the industry — including farmers, food manufacturers, and restaurateurs — might be able to prepare for their effects in the future.
There’s more at the link.
And with what were the eleven who have been charged accused? Felony re-entry, that’s what. They had entered the United States illegally on a previous occasion, and were apprehended, and sent back to their homes. Six had been caught crossing the border, and returned immediately, while the other five had been been in the US for a while before being caught, and had been deported. Those charged with felony re-entry could face up to two years in the penitentiary.
The other 44, well, we haven’t been told, but it is probable that they were here illegally but it as their first offense, and will simply be deported.
The linked article continues, in pretty much of a sob-story vein, to tell us just how horrible it has been for illegal immigrants who have gotten caught and sent back home.
The author, Tove Danovich, who is clearly sympathetic to the illegal immigrants, told us, perhaps unwittingly, just how wise immigration enforcement is. She wrote of the 2008 ICE raid at Agriprocessors, a meatpacking plant in the small town of Postville, Iowa. With much of its workforce hauled away, the company brought in immigrant labor from other countries, paid very low wages, and suffered from a high number of industrial accidents.
Agriprocessors closed six months later. In addition to labor violations, they’d been cited for poor environmental standards and inhumane handling of animals (a tall order in an industry where chickens have few protections from abuse). The plant was foreclosed, the former CEO arrested for federal financial fraud — and ultimately sentenced to 27 years in prison.
That would be a different result from what the author claimed was the norm, the business owners not being criminally charged for knowingly using illegal immigrant labor. But here’s the best part:
Because of Agriprocessors’ role as one of the biggest suppliers of kosher meat, it was eventually taken over by new management under the name of Agri-Star. Mayor Rekow praises the plant’s business practices. “[The new owner] has worked with the city and things are progressing nicely,” he says with characteristic reserve. According to Rekow, Agri-Star raised their wages and is more efficient than Agriprocessors.
Put plainly, once the business which exploited immigrant labor was forced to close, it was replaced by a legitimate business, which has raised wages and improved working conditions. How is that a bad thing? Being forced to comply with the immigration laws has resulted in exactly what the left claim that they want! You don’t need to raise the minimum wage when market conditions require the payment of higher wages to meet your labor requirements.
Today many immigrants are worried that what happened in Postville will soon become all too regular. If raids target groups of restaurants in small communities, they could have the same effect as if they target a large scale food producer like Agriprocessors.
And that would be a good thing! One wonders how Miss Danovich, who wrote about the good effects wrought by the replacement of Agriprocessors with Agri-Star, fails to see that. In stating that she is working on a book concerning, among other things, humane farming, one would think that she would be concomitantly interested in humane working conditions, something she told us Agri-Star is attempting to provide, which Agriprocessors did not.
From another article on eater.com, If You Care About Food, You Need to Care About Immigration Policy:
Top to bottom, the American food system relies on immigrant labor more than any other cross-section of the economy. According to the 2014 Hunger Report, over 70 percent of farm workers are foreign-born, with an estimated half of those undocumented. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over 10 percent of restaurant workers are immigrants, with a study by Pew Hispanic finding that at least 20 percent of all cooks and 28 percent of all dishwashers are undocumented. (The depth and breadth of the American food system’s reliance on immigrants was on display during yesterday’s A Day Without Immigrants strikes.)
Despite the stereotype of unauthorized immigrants being paid in cash under the table, which may be the case with many farming jobs, most undocumented workers in restaurants and food-production factories are hired as legal employees, filing false information with their I-9 forms. They’re paid — and have taxes withheld — as if they are authorized workers. (This accounts for much of the nearly $12 billion undocumented immigrants contribute in taxes each year.² It also accounts for virtually every restaurateur’s vehement claims that they absolutely do not employ any unauthorized immigrants.)
Those who defend the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants are quick to point out that the targets of these policies are undocumented residents, not individuals who are authorized to live and work in America. The matter is not so simple, however, and neither are its execution or effects.
It really does not matter whether enforcement of the law is simple or not; the law is the law, and the Congress has declined to change our immigration laws, despite eight years of pressure from then-President Barack Obama.³ But the effects of enforcing our immigration laws have been, and will be, to raise wages and improve conditions by those businesses currently dependent upon illegal immigration. If those businesses are forced to hire only people who are in the country legally — and the federal government needs to change the laws to require more thorough examination of immigration documents being provided, to put more legal responsibility and liability on employers to insure that their employees are legally allowed to work — then they will be compelled, by market forces, to pay higher wages in order to attract and keep their employees.
The left ought to be appalled that so many businesses are getting away with lowered wages and poorer working conditions by the use of a workforce largely unable to complain. Virtually everything about which they complain would be addressed if the government enforced our immigration laws, on both employers and employees.
¹ – The First Street Journal does not use the mealy-mouthed terms “unauthorized” or “undocumented,” other than for prosaic concerns or in direct quotes from others, because those terms have been meant, by those who use them, to obscure the fact that illegal immigrants are here illegally, are in violation of the laws.
² – We have previously noted that the government absolutely loves collecting taxes from illegal immigrants.
³ – During President Obama’s first two years in office, the Democrats had sizable majorities in both Houses of Congress, and the immigration laws still were not changed.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.