A group that’s pushing for immigration reform is asking Congress to investigate the owners of the Postville meatpacking plant that was the focus of an immigration raid last week. The raid led to the arrest of 389 people at Agriprocessors in Postville. Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice , says it’s time for the owners of the plant to face action.
Sharry says the group thinks it’s an outrage that workers are being charged with felonies while the employers "who have clearly committed numerous abuses and potential violations of laws" are re-hiring new workers to keep the plant going. Sharry is calling on federal lawmakers to take action.
Sharry says they want to see Congressional hearings where the employers are sworn in and asked to testify about what was happening at the plant. "And what does it say about our immigration policy that employers can seek out easy to exploit workers, abuse them, and get off scott free," Sharry asks.
Mark Lauritsen, international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) says reading the information on the Postville raid shows "shameful" action by the plant’s owners. Lauritsen says what’s ultimately shameful is that nearly 400 "hardworking men and women" are in detention, while the people who exploited them are free to roam the streets and start the cycle over again.
Lauriston says Agriproccessors has gotten away with the labor violations for too long. Lauritsen says: "There is not one other meatpacker operator in this country that has the same sustained long record of law violations as Agriprocessors, not one. They’re acting like a renegade in an already tough industry. It’s not good for the industry, it’s not good for the workers who work in it." Sharry and Lauritson say the national strategy of ‘attrition through enforcement’ remains an ineffective solution to the immigration issue.