In an earlier post, I had asked if Swift would be held responsible for financial support to the families of their deported workers. Without such support, these families will be forced to rely on tax-funded social services.
Last night the Newshour on PBS aired a report on the effect of the deportations to those families and the town of Greeley, Colorado. Even in a fairly in-depth report like this, there is no mention of the likely penalty Swift will be assessed, or of any cost to the company at all, except to say that the company is now offering hiring bonuses for replacement workers.
Likewise in Sunday’s Denver Post piece.
Three weeks before the ICE raids, on November 28th, Swift, apparently being told in advance of the raids, asked a court to stop any enforcement action, which the court refrained to do. Swift also asked, if the raids were to take place, that the company be held blameless for any violations because they had participated in the government’s “Basic Pilot Program” and had relied on it to screen out any illegals. An acknowledged flaw of the Program is its inability to detect if a stolen identity is being used. Of the 261 workers arrested in Greeley, 22 are charged with using stolen identities.
In denying Swift an injunction against the raids and/or charges resulting from them, the court also refuted Swift’s contention that the raids themselves are “a de facto penalty” because, the company claimed, they cause the company a “disruption of business and economic damages.” The court observed:
“The testimony that Federal Trade Commission reports show that 331 Swifts employees have used false identities to the harm of other citizens, 170 of which still work at Swift, is evidence that grant of the requested injunction would harm the public’s interest in quickly catching such criminals, swiftly breaking up any rings which cause or contribute to such harm, and minimize continuing damages to innocent citizens.”
I cannot imagine that a company could knowingly employ identified illegal aliens without having charges pressed against it. But that’s what Swift did, apparently thinking itself above the law.
In addition to any legal penalties, I really think Swift should pony up to help out the affected families, not only because failure to do so dumps the costs onto the taxpayer, but also because some of these workers have been at Swift ten years without any indication from the company that either their employment or their freedom was imperiled — a de facto entrapment, offering a steady job to people who do not know the law and cannot speak the language, and are desperate to work. If these people thought the company was protecting them, were they wrong to believe that? Because it certainly does seem that the company was shielding them from deportation.
In the end, it is probably only the illegals and their families who will pay a significant penalty. Swift will get a slap on the wrist, as I am sure they are expecting, especially given the fact that they brazenly employed 170 known identity thieves. Maybe despite the raids, it is still business as usual.