We reported in December that Chicago lawyer Howard Foster had filed a class action against Colin Service Systems, employers of illegal immigrants, on behalf of honest employers, who don't. Foster has now filed two class actions on behalf of native-born workers (and legal immigrants) against employers who have apparently conspired to hire illegal immigrants on a massive scale.
Tyson Foods, and IBP, a subsidiary of Tyson, are being sued by Foster on behalf of
"[A]ll persons legally authorized to be employed in the United States ("U.S.") who have been employed by defendant Tyson Foods, Inc. (Tyson), reportedly the world's largest processor and marketer of poultry, as hourly wage earners at 15 of its facilities throughout the U.S. during the last four years."
The issue is cheap labor. It benefits employers but lowers the wages of American workers in the surrounding area. For, example, in 1999, NumbersUSA's Roy Beck testified before Congress on the damage done by immigrant labor to workers in the meat-packing industry.
Tyson is vulnerable because it has already been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for conspiracy to hire illegals in its Shelbyville, Tennessee plant. (The firm is also on probation for bribing Clinton Agricultural Secretary Mike Espy.) Foster is simply piling on in time-honored trial-lawyer style.
Foster is able to do this because he has noticed that the 1996 immigration reform legislation, a bitter disappointment in so many ways, did at least allow private individuals to sue to enforce the law – a provision commonly added by legislators at the behest of the plaintiff bar. As the LA Times noted (New Angle in Fight Against Hiring Illegal Immigrants, April 3 2002):
Corporate and immigration law experts said the approach has the potential to become a private "enforcement tool" supplanting federal employer sanctions laws, but only if plaintiffs can pass the high bar of proof required under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute.
Similar suits have been backed by supporters of strict immigration law enforcement, who say the prospect of treble damages under RICO could force employers to think hard before hiring undocumented workers. That could have a big effect in California, where roughly half of the estimated 7 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. are employed.
The advantage of a private lawsuit [PDF file of National Law Journal article on use of RICO against illegal immigrants] is that unlike INS enforcement, it's not influenced by political factors. As I reported previously, INS enforcement is down, the Bush administration isn't interested in enforcing these laws, but the RICO act allows America's notoriously hungry tort lawyers to do what the government won't.
The case against Tyson in criminal court involves conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the U.S. and faked Social Security cards provided by Amador Anchondo-Rascon, who copped a plea recently and is described in the suit as "an informal Tyson employee." (See Wichita Eagle 1/27/02 Immigrant lived American Dream by trafficking illegals into U.S.)
National Public Radio (!) did a significant story about the Tyson suit, interviewing G. Robert Blakey, who drafted the RICO act when he was Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Blakey is the expert on RICO. He said that he thought that the Tyson suit "has substantial chance," largely because of the greater ease of demonstrating that employees, rather than employers, are damaged:
"What we now have in the Tyson case is the employees themselves complaining that their wages were artificially depressed, by the willingness of Tyson foods to bring in illegal aliens who would then work at artificially depressed wages. That sounds to me like a superb suit."
[Listen to the interview in RealAudio by clicking here.]
Mainstream media reaction to this is – guess what? - to sympathise with the illegal workers. AP reported that "Tyson Indictments Leave Some Illegal Immigrants Stranded." It quoted a Chattanooga social worker:
"They are not going back home," he said. "They are forced to look for other means of survival."
Of course, Tyson Foods, which apparently paid their fare from Mexico, could be required to pay their fare going the other way, if they were willing to go.
Ironically, the same social worker told the Boston Globe (2/2/02) that some Mexicans were leaving, because of economic concerns, the Tyson lawsuit, and their fear of being drafted into the War on Terrorism.
RICO is a brutal weapon. It has been misused in the past, for example to attack political dissent.
But these suits are legitimate:
We at VDARE.COM wish them luck.
Click here for the full text of the complaint against Tyson Food, with links.
April 10, 2002