For Immediate Release
June 19, 2009
Francisco Lopez, Executive Director: (503) 269-5694
Erik Sorensen, Communications Director: (503) 488-0263
Salem, Ore.--This week, evidence came to light that a new type of worksite raid has occurred in Oregon.
An investigation conducted by Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United) PCUN discovered that close to 250 workers were dismissed at a farm in Dallas, Oregon. According to their report, workers at Meduri Farms were notified in May that they were being terminated due to 'invalid or fraudulent Social Security numbers'.
The procedure is being coined a "Desktop Raid" and appears to be part of a national trend.
Last week, the LA Times reported that over 200 workers were terminated in a similar way at a major food-processing plant in Vernon, California near Los Angeles. According to the report, more than 200 employees from Overhill Farms were terminated after the owner received a letter from the IRS saying that employees provided 'invalid or fraudulent' Social Security numbers.
Like Overhill Farms, the Meduri Farms owner received a letter from the Federal Government saying that there were discrepancies in social security numbers that workers provided at the time of hiring. The workers were given 30 days to prove that they have legal presence to be able to continue working.
According to news reports, in effort to verify the employee's status, Overhill Farms turned to using the flawed e-Verify system. One worker, Lucia Vasquez, who had a valid Social Security Number and regularized immigration status, still received a termination letter. It is unknown how many workers at these farms or others are experiencing the same nightmare.
Most of the workers from Meduri and Overhill have been employed with the companies for years--sometimes up to 20 year or more. Having been loyal, dedicated and hardworking members of the workforce, they kept the companies going daily. Now, they find themselves pushed out with no way to reconcile or to support their families.
Raids on businesses, whether by ICE agents storming a facility or a "desktop" style as we have seen at Meduri and Overhill Farms, come at a serious time for the United States. With the Obama Administration trying to recover the down spiraling economy, the loss of these workers is detrimental to the companies that need them.
"Besides the tragic situation for these families that have lost their livelihood that they need to survive", said Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of CAUSA. "The loss of these workers means a loss of revenue for these businesses and that will not help the U.S. Economy. What we need is real Comprehensive Immigration Reform, not more raids".
The mass termination of these hard working and loyal immigrants calls into question again the larger problem with the immigration policy of the United States. With the Federal Government employing yet another tactic to force businesses to become de facto immigration agents, it is critical more now than ever for Congress and the President to take action and pass fair and human Immigration Reform this year.
Computer 'raid' in Vernon leaves factory workers devastated (Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2009)
Fired for Working (New American Media, June 17, 2009)
Meduri Farms www.medurifarms.com
Overhill Farms www.overhillfarms.com