Additional Statement: ICE Raid at Koch Foods of Mississippi on August 7, 2019

by Jim Gilliland 423.227.8206 | Aug 10, 2019

 

Employers today are in a difficult position and have been for many years.  This is especially true for employers who by virtue of their operations employ large numbers of workers. 

Tension exists between federal laws on preventing discrimination, such as national origin discrimination, and immigration laws on verifying employment eligibility. 

For instance, federal law prohibits an employer from requesting during the employment verification process more documents than the employee presents when the employee presents documents that appear authentic.  Requesting more documents subjects an employer to liability for "over documentation" discrimination.   Similarly, an employer would commit unlawful national origin discrimination if it refused to hire a worker on the basis that the worker comes from another country if the worker presents what appear to be authentic documents. Furthermore, the E-Verify system does not detect if a worker is working under a stolen identity of an authorized person. 

The net effect of all of this is that an employer like Koch Foods can dutifully and vigilantly comply with the immigration laws and still not know if some of its workers are unauthorized. 

That is the case even though Koch Foods' plant in Morton, Mississippi has disqualified more than 400 people since 2016 from employment due to lack of work authorization.  An employer like Koch Foods can also find itself in jeopardy of committing unlawful discrimination if it acts too aggressively in its effort to comply with the immigration laws. 

The raid by the government on Koch Foods resulted in a significant disruption of work and terrible impacts on the lives of many workers and their families.  It is apparent from the affidavit related to Koch Foods that this raid was directed at individuals and not the company.  The affidavit does not set forth legal violations by Koch Foods.  The government's actions amount to serious government overreach under a framework of flawed and conflicting laws.  These most recent events are yet another demonstration of the fact that existing immigration law and policy need serious reform.

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