When immigration raids happen – like one last week at a Mississippi food plant – it’s normally the workers getting arrested. In the Mississippi raid, 680 unauthorized workers were rounded up. But none of the plant’s executives were charged for hiring them.
Renae Merle is a Washington Post reporter. She covers white-collar crime and Wall Street. She says employer prosecutions for hiring unauthorized workers have always been rare. But they have fallen dramatically since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
“The Obama administration made it a bigger priority to go after employers and felt that arresting hard-working undocumented immigrants didn’t have the same impact as it would getting these corporation to pay huge fines or arresting a CEO. [They felt that] was a more effective way to go about it,” Merle says.
During Obama’s two terms, 88 cases were filed against employers. The Trump administration has had five.
Merle says it may be a matter of convenience.
“Cases made against undocumented workers are just easier to make,” Merle says. “It’s just basically: “are you in the country legally or not?””
It may also be a matter of priorities.
“In some cases, arresting so many workers might be a death nail for a company. It wouldn’t make sense, at that point, to prosecute a company because the company might be on its last leg,” Merle says.
Meaning it is a higher priority to preserve the company and the jobs it provides.
Written by Joy Diaz.