We need to stop arguing for the expansion of the modern-slave system

The NY Times article “Is Immigration at Its Limit” is proposing to maintain a system of slavery and an underclass of workers in our country. Instead of calling for the repeal of the law that criminalizes undocumented immigrants, the NY Times attempts to justify the expansion of an underclass of workers, promoting the myth a) that there is a labor shortage b) that Americans are not willing to work as hard and c) that consumers will have to pay more for goods and services. This argument attempts to hoodwink working consumers to blame other workers, while employers squeeze superprofits from both.

It’s time we stop arguing over whether or not we want more modern-day slaves in this country and start demanding and end to the modern-day slave system.

“Criminalizing undocumented workers will not stop people from hiring them. It only makes them more exploitable.”


“A third of a century with the Immigration Reform and Control Act’s employer sanctions should teach us one thing: criminalizing undocumented labor is not the answer. Labor abuses run rampant in the poultry industry, fueled by an economic system that is accountable only to the owners and shareholders of corporations.” Read more from this article by Angela Steusse here.

Koch Foods undocumented poultry workers were actively recruited to be exploited- they were sexually harassed and hit on the job, then arrested for reporting abuses.

“By the 1990s, businesses began aggressively recruiting Latin American immigrants to fill their labor needs, luring them to rural Mississippi from places such as El Paso and Miami.

One company, since acquired by Koch Foods, dubbed the campaign the “Hispanic Project,” which resulted in a 1,000 percent increase in Scott County’s Latino population, where two of the raided plants are located, in a decade.

‘EEOC alleges that supervisors touched and/or made sexually suggestive comments to female Hispanic employees, hit Hispanic employees and charged many of them money for normal everyday work activities,” an EEOC release reads. “Further, a class of Hispanic employees was subject to retaliation in the form of discharge and other adverse actions after complaining.'”

Read more from the Washington Post article here.

“Low-Wage Legacies, Race, and the Golden Chicken in Mississippi: Where Contemporary Immigration Meets African American Labor History” by Angela Steusse

Angela Steusse traces the history of the Scott County, MS poultry industry in this article: 
1950s: Only white workers worked in the plants. 
1960s: As white workers sought better jobs and pay, black workers were integrated into the industry and given the worst jobs at a lower pay
1970s-80s: Black workers organized into unions to fight for better conditions 
1990s: After the IRCA employers sanctions was passed, employers went to Guatemala and Mexico to actively recruit undocumented immigrants to work in the MS poultry plants.
2000s: Immigrant workers start organizing with unions for better conditions. 
2019: ICE targets poultry workers at Koch Foods plants after they won an EEOC settlement for sexual harassment.

Read more from Angela Steusse’s article in Southern Spaces to see how the poultry industry pitted one race against each other to persistently depress wages and conditions of workers here.

“As workplace raids multiply, Trump administration charges few companies”

The Washington Post article demonstrates the real purpose of the employers sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. It is NOT to deter immigration or the hiring of undocumented workers. The article reveals that Trump’s companies have consistently employed undocumented workers. Rather, the TRUE purpose is to strip undocumented workers of all their rights, create an underclass of workers, and maintain a cheap pool of exploitable labor. Click here to read more from the Washington Post article.

“Criminalizing Immigrants Hurts All Workers as IRCA Turns 30” by Angela Steusse


“Nothing short of decriminalizing the employment of undocumented workers will encourage fair and transparent labor practices. You can help create workplaces in which labor rights are respected by supporting comprehensive immigration reform that decouples our country’s immigration and employment laws. This won’t just help immigrants; by eliminating the shadow economy that augments corporations’ undue power over workers, it will make our nation’s workplaces safer and better for us all.”

Read more from Angela Steusse’s article in the Daily Kos here.

Mississippi ICE Raids Targeted Workers Who Fought for Better Conditions

Aug 7, Morton, MS- ICE Arrests 680 Workers in MS Poultry farms after UFCW Union Organized Workers at a Plant to Win $3.5 Million in a Sexual Harassment Settlement

“These raids send a real signal to immigrant workers not to speak up, and we feel like these raids enable employers in the most dangerous industry to cut corners and violate labor standards,” said Debbie Berkowitz, who served as chief of staff of OSHA under Obama from 2009 to 2013 and now serves as the director of the worker health and safety program at the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Repeal the modern-day slave that allows employers to wield the immigration law to violate labor laws and super-exploit workers.

Read more about the organizing efforts of the Koch Food workers here.

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