Mississippi Meatpackers Start Hiring to Replace Arrested Migrants

Food processing plant ICE raid
ICE, Public Domain

Koch Foods is holding a job fair on August 12 in Mississippi to help replace the migrant workers who were detained on August 7.

The advertisements for jobs at the meat processing plants are being run with the help of the state government, which touted the event after the migrants were removed from the processing plants:

The ad does not mention any promised wage level for the offered jobs.

Koch Foods is not affiliated with the libertarian Koch brothers.

Federal data from 2018 shows that half of the meat cutters in the state were being paid less than $12.23 per hour.

But wages have spiked upwards for Americans when employers were forced to give up their illegal workforces. Enforcement actions aided African-American bakers in Chicago, Somali refugees in Iowa, and throughout the mid-West after the 2006 enforcement at the Swift & Co. meatpacking company.

The processing firms have been under pressure to raise wages in President Donald Trump’s go-go economy. In May 2019, for example, Sanderson Farms offered $15 an hour wage to workers after June 2. “Sanderson Farms has about 15,000 workers in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas. About 13,000 [earn] hourly wages,” AP reported.

The companies have also been silent about their investment in labor-saving machinery. For decades, the supply of cheap workers has reduced the companies’ incentive to invest in labor-saving, safe, and hygienic machinery.

In Europe, higher wages have pressured European companies to develop and then sell a wide range of slaughterhouse machinery to markets around the world:

One processor in Harrisonburg, Va., has invested in the Dutch-built machinery.

In a sharp political change, the federal enforcement action was supported by the Mississippi state government, amid vehement denunciations from Democratic politicians, including 2020 candidate Joe Biden. Governor Phil Bryant tweeted his approval, saying:

If you are here illegally violating federal laws, you have to bear the responsibility of that federal violation. I think @ICEgov is doing a great job, and I think @USAttyHurst is doing exactly what he should be doing, and I commend him for it.

For decades, state officials have ignored the rampant employment of illegal immigrants at the state’s processing plants, despite the huge impact on local workers, especially on African-American workers.

“Who are the American workers [company recruiters] are ignoring? Black workers,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

“Let’s face it- the employers did not want to hire black workers. They see them as more trouble than they are worth if they can hire illegal immigrants from Latin America instead. In effect, these anti-border groups on the left are conspiring with employers to elbow out black Americans from these jobs,” he said.

The inflow of illegals also has the greatest impact on the least capable workers who cannot get or hold jobs, even when the economy is doing well, he said.

“The migrants are probably better workers than the Americans who don’t have jobs in this economy — that’s probably true because the Americans who don’t have jobs in this economy are more likely to be recovering addicts or recovering convicts,” said Krikorian. “Business is going to have to deal with that.”

For example, from 2000 to 2009, the labor-force participation rate in Mississippi dropped by nine percent, according to an August 8 report from Krikorian’s CIS. The drop from 78 percent to 69 percent leaves 494,000 U.S.-born adults out of the workforce in 2019, said the report, titled, “The Employment Situation of Immigrants and Natives in the First Quarter of 2019.”


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