Bosnians, Iowa, meatpackers and more
Posted by Ann Corcoran on May 17, 2008
We’ve written many times before about the unholy alliance between meatpacking giants like Tyson’s Food and Swift & Co., the government and the refugee resettlement industry. Now, bits and pieces of this alliance are coming into better view. Here is a lengthy segment from the Agribusiness Examiner N.101 11jan01 which I am picking up in the middle of the document:
But the story continues, Limbacher [Newsmax reporter] notes, for in the intervening years, IBP’s “good deed” seems to have been rewarded, often through the good graces of the Clinton administration’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
One way the beef giant had become dominant in its field was by recruiting low-skilled non-union foreign workers to staff its slaughterhouses, where the work is always arduous and often dangerous. IBP had been actively recruiting laborers from all over the world for years.
A little more than a year after IBP helped facilitate Tyson’s takeover of Hudson, the Journal explored the company’s practice of hiring foreign workers under the headline: “With Help from INS, U.S. Meatpacker Taps Mexican Work Force.”
“So why isn’t the INS turning its searchlights on IBP’s Mexico campaign?,” the Journal asked. “Why, instead, is the federal agency hailing IBP as a model of cooperation? The answer reflects the complex interplay between public policy, a company’s economic needs and a government agency’s political interests,” reported the paper.
“Complex interplay?” Limbacher scoffs, “basically, in 1996 the Clinton INS offered the beef giant a program called Basic Pilot, which was designed to help big employers of foreign labor avoid undocumented workers and comply with immigration laws.”
But in practice, he adds, Basic Pilot often meant that immigration laws were ignored altogether. The meatpacking giant, which was hit by INS raids six times between 1994 and 1997 (the year of the Hudson buyout), hasn’t had a single INS raid since. John Nathan, the INS official overseeing the program, told the Journal that “the INS assumes a high degree of compliance” with Basic Pilot.
“And IBP’s good fortune didn’t end there,” Limbacher continues, “turns out the Clinton administration’s Bosnian refugee resettlement efforts also helped to keep labor costs down. Since 1995, for instance, the town of Waterloo, Iowa — population 65,000 – has been swamped with 6,000 Bosnian refugees, many of whom wound up working for the No. 1 local employer, IBP.”
Until recently, IBP’s 2,000-strong Waterloo workforce was one-third Bosnian. Most refugee families that settle there have a family member who at one time or another worked for the meatpacking giant. In fact, the meatpacking industry has a history of recruiting on the ground in Yugoslavia. But during the Clinton years, companies like IBP haven’t had to travel that far.
Since 1995, the Clinton INS has resettled over 80,000 Balkan refugees, mainly Bosnian Muslims, primarily in America’s Midwest. The immigrant deluge has earned Iowa the distinction of being the only state in the union with its own refugee bureau.
So, as Limbacher concludes his intriquing story, “perhaps it’s fitting that IBP should finally be absorbed by Tyson Foods, with its long history of financial backing of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, especially since it was the Clinton Agriculture Department’s heavy hand that brought the two meat processing giants together in the first place.”
Lighbulbs flashing! So that is why Iowa is one of the top 10 volags that regularly contract with the US State Department to resettle refugees.
And, more lightbulbs! The US State Department is helping big companies by bringing cheap LEGAL labor through the refugee program couched as humanitarian work. Clinton was heavily involved in importing what amounts to slave labor all to help the meatpackers not have to pay decent wages to American citizens. Church groups are helping too!
Flash! For those of you wondering where all the Bosnian Muslims were coming from in recent years, here is the answer.
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