I read a DOJ press release today that gave me pause given the recent refusal to deport Illegal Aliens by the Obama Administration. The quote that caught my eye was this one (emphasis is mine):
“The Justice Department is committed to protecting the right of all work-authorized employees, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, to work without having to overcome extra and discriminatory hurdles during the hiring process,” said Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased to have reached this agreement, and we will continue to rely upon both public education and focused enforcement to prevent and deter employers from engaging in discriminatory I-9 practices. ”
In a nutshell, that was a blanket threat to every business in the United States. Either use the loophole and fraud ridden system for employment verification we provide you or be made an example of by being sued. Is it just coincidence that Smithfield Foods has a PAC that donated mainly to the GOP and GOP candidates in 2010? It would seem this case serves a dual purpose; promoting Obama’s backdoor amnesty while simultaneously punishing his enemies.
Farmland Foods became a DOJ target back in June of this year. They are a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods – which carries a large number of names under their brand. This is not the first time the DOJ has gone after Smithfield. In 2009, the DOJ forced Smithfield to settle a case alleging that they engaged in illegal merger activity during its takeover of Premium Standard Farms LLC in 2006. The price tag on that case was $900,000.
The current case that was presented alleged that Farmland had requested workers provide specific documents from the I-9 list of acceptable documents for employment instead of allowing the employee to choose. Also, it alleged that additional documents like Social Security cards or proof of citizenship were requested (emphasis is mine):
“The Justice Department today reached a settlement with Farmland Foods Inc., a major producer of pork products in the United States, resolving allegations that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and excessive documentary requirements on non-U.S. citizens and foreign-born U.S. citizens when establishing their authority to work in the United States.”
Farmland Foods apparently agreed to settle to the tune of $290,400 in civil penalties. That’s apparently the highest penalty ever paid out since the enactment of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision in 1986. I saw no mention in any investigating being done by the DOJ on the immigration status of any plaintiffs. If there are some, feel free to send me the link. What I did see overall here, was the DOJ suing a business on behalf of workers or potential workers of questionable immigration status. Juxtapose this case against Farmland Foods with one from 2005, where Wal-Mart was caught hiring Illegal Aliens from 12 difference agencies to work as janitors.
So, who are the DOJ and the Obama Administration really protecting here? Definitely not business.