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General News    H4'ed 8/10/19

Who Kills Your Meat? Illegal Immigrants Do

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US Slaughterhouses are staffed by immigrants
US Slaughterhouses are staffed by immigrants
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This week's ICE raids on chicken slaughter plants in Mississippi raise an issue that traditional media like to ignore. Illegal immigrants keep the US in cheap meat.

Few to no Americans want slaughterhouse jobs like knockers, stickers, bleeders and tail rippers. In fact, when Smithfield's slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, NC, offered inmates work release to work at the local slaughterhouse, the inmates said they would rather stay in their cells. Think about that.

A 2008 ICE raid on the Iowa-based slaughterhouse Agriprocessors wiped out almost the whole work force: 296 Guatemalans, 93 Mexicans, two Israelis, and four Ukrainians were arrested. Initial charges against Agriprocessors included harboring illegal aliens, use of child labor, document fraud, identity theft, physical and sexual abuse of workers, unsafe working conditions, wage and hour violations, and shorting workers' pay.

According to the search warrant, 1,000 discrepancies between worker names and social security numbers occurred in three years. There was even a methamphetamine production plant existing within the slaughterhouse, sanctioned by management. Barack Obama, then an Illinois senator, weighed in on the situation during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa. "They have kids in there wielding buzz saws and cleavers. It's ridiculous," he said

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Undaunted after the raid, recruitment firms hired by Agriprocessors canvassed homeless shelters, bus stations, chapel services, and other slaughterhouses, and ran ads in Spanish-language newspapers and on Mexican radio stations in the Rio Grande Valley to replenish the workforce. One recruitment firm, Labor Ready, says it recalled 150 workers days after placing them, over Agriprocessors's "safety conditions."

Years ago meatpackers JBS Swift, Tyson Foods and Gold'n Plump began hiring Somalis, fleeing civil war, for their slaughterhouse workers. Sudanese and Pacific Islanders also became popular slaughterhouse employees. Employees fleeing poverty and violence, like those from Central American, are willing to accept low wages and no on-the-job protections or worker rights.

Are conservatives who deplore immigrants ready to give up the cheap meat immigrants make possible? Are progressives and clergy who "love" immigrants okay with jobs with no security that regularly cause workers to lose their hands--to keep Americans in cheap meat? (We won't even talk about what happens to the animals under these conditions.)

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Ten years ago, a Texas AgriLife Research study of 5,005 dairy farms estimated that the US economy would suffer an $11 billion loss with the loss of foreign workers. Since then, that number has only grown.

Are Big Food corporations--and the lawmakers who serve them--ready to pay real wages to workers and stop hiring illegal immigrants while bashing them? Are Americans addicted to cheap meat ready to see how their eating habits support the exploitation of illegal immigrants? No talk about illegal immigrants is honest if it leaves out the fact that US slaughterhouses are balanced on their backs.

 

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Martha Rosenberg Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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2 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments  Post Comment


RG Cunningham

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(Member since Mar 1, 2016), 7 fans, 12 articles, 414 comments
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Nicely written and thought out, Martha--thank you.

I'd like nothing more than to see every slaughterhouse permanently shut down, but your point is well made. A globe full of brain-dead corpse eaters without the hideous psychosis that infects them, would be the beginning of a path to peace.

It is impossible to compartmentalize violence and murder. We are raising psychopaths from day one when we teach them that murder is acceptable, as long as the victims don't look like us. This causes moral/ethical chaos and confusion which results in our present descent into the multiple mass murder of our own. The answer to our current crisis is to teach a deep-seated aversion to anything connected to violence, which begins with what's on our plate.

We are so sick as a species that we're unable to see that we are the most vile, repulsive, massively violent and destructive plague on Earth. And since we are unable to address what we refuse to see--that our killing of nonhumans begets the killing of ourselves, we are locked in and doomed to this ever-escalating insanity.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 7:11:29 PM

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Reply to RG Cunningham:   New Content
I have tremendous empathy for any immigrant daring to come to the U.S., I wonder how many of them realize that it's fascist-imperialist U.S. foreign policy that directly caused their victimization in the first place...

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 7:27:29 PM

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Martha Rosenberg

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Reply to RG Cunningham:   New Content

Foreign workers are pawns in this game. What an irony that the cheap meat helps no one and hurts the workers, animals, environment, the human eaters and even the economy

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 7:38:03 PM

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Reply to RG Cunningham:   New Content

Well put. if you can kill an animal you can kill a person. Speciesism is a form of racism. Thanks

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 7:36:26 PM

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