Green cards by way of chicken factories

Who would pay to work in a chicken plant? Chicken plants have recruited thousands of foreign workers in recent years through a little-known program to fill jobs they say Americans won’t do. So said Politico last year in an article. The problem persists according to Claudia Minoiu, who brought it to my attention.

The EB3 visa is a green card set aside for skilled workers. It is rarely used.  But South Korean with skills have been pitched to apply for it, and American immigration lawyers participate in the following manipulation of the law. A skilled South Korean pays tens of thousands of dollars, upwards of $70,000, for fixers to do the paperwork.  Part of the deals is they work for a north Carolina chicken processing company, Raeford Farms, for as little as $8.50 an hour for a year.

According to Pro Publica, the EB3 program is now dominated by a handful of poultry processors with poor safety records, one janitorial firm and a single fast-food franchisee. Overseas, a cottage industry of migration agents has popped up charging steep fees for “migration assistance,” even as the law bars the selling of green card sponsorship and other recruiting fees.

And under the program, U.S. companies aren’t obligated to do much to first persuade Americans to take their jobs. They merely have to place two want ads seeking American workers in the local Sunday newspaper and a notice on the state jobs board — not raise pay or improve work conditions.

A House of Raeford chicken plant in West Columbia, South Carolina. The poultry processor has sought to sponsor 1,900 foreign workers through the EB-3 program in the last three years.

But other agencies cleverly disguise recruitment fees as “settlement services” or “assimilation packages,” charging inflated rates, said David Hirson, an immigration attorney in Costa Mesa, California. One ad in China, where demand for visas is so high that the wait under the program is 11 years, lists the going rate to migrate through Burger King and Pizza Hut at $130,000.

In 2008, the House of Raeford was raided by ICE and 350 workers arrested. The company was actively recruiting unauthorized Hispanic workers.



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