La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What kind of logic?

According to the NYT, more than half of the undocumented workers at an Iowa meat-packing plant are going to be sent to prison for five months before being deported. Some are being put on probation. Imagine the cost of prosecuting and imprisoning those workers.

No charges have been brought against managers or owners at Agriprocessors, but there were indications that prosecutors were also preparing a case against the company. In pleading guilty, immigrants had to agree to cooperate with any investigation.

See also this news of a sweep in California.

posted by Michelle @ 12:07 PM,


At 5/25/2008 1:26 AM, Blogger Chris Lawrence said...

I suppose the jailing part is pour décourager les autres.

And, in this case, it would appear that the workers would technically be maldocumented (using false identity documents), not undocumented (lacking identity documents).

At 5/25/2008 11:17 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Sure, but what about discouraging other employers? Why punishing only 1 half of the offending parties?

Good point on the documents.

At 5/25/2008 8:22 PM, Blogger Chris Lawrence said...

On the employers, I'd imagine it's because (a) the employers have better lawyers and (b) it's probably harder to prove someone knowingly accepted forged identity documents (i.e. knew the documents were fake but accepted them anyway, instead of accepting them because they appeared to be genuine) than it is to prove that someone used fake ID.

A brief perusal of the "Handbook for Employers" indicates that as long as an employer "reviewed the documents which should have reasonably appeared to have been genuine and to have related to the person presented them" and the government cannot show knowledge that the employee is unauthorized to work in the U.S., the employer cannot be sanctioned. So DHS needs to prove that Agriprocessors knew the workers weren't legally authorized to work in the U.S., which given the circumstances (they're not going to be dumb enough to say, "oh yeah, we were running Fake IDs R Us on the side") probably requires corroborating testimony from the workers.

At 5/25/2008 9:43 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

IANAL, but it seems that with SO MANY folks with maldocuments, lawyers should be able to charge the company with some sort of malfeasance or pattern of IDK...something, if they wanted to, which I doubt they do. The point is, which you make so clearly, that it's easier to go after the weak and poor than the employers that are also involved.

I also doubt seriously whether the jail time will detour others from entry, but maybe from working with maldocuments in such high concentrations with large firms.


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