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Jessica Ruano
Professor Hanvey
ENG 100
18 November 2014
Immigrants, Exploitation and a fight for Human Rights
Since the 1980s large numbers of immigrants from Mexico, Central America
and Southeast Asia travel to rural Colorado (Schlosser 160). Immigrants like them
relocate to Colorado for employment in the agriculture and meat packing industry.
Meat packing companies promise housing, benefits and good labor wages to
immigrants while recruiting them, but very rarely are those promises met.
Exploitation is something common in the agriculture and meat packing industry;
although there are several movements to provide these workers with human rights, it
is rare for them to have safe work environments and live without the fear of
If theyve got a pulse, well take an application was stated by a meatpacking
executive in an Omaha World-Herald article in 1998 (Schlosser 162). In Chapter 7,
Schlosser covers the issues the immigrants often face when recruited by companies
like ConAgra Beef Company and IBP. These companies often state that they
support INS and their efforts to enforce the law, and that they do not knowingly
employ undocumented immigrants. However, Monfort started employing several
immigrants, which in some cases where illegal aliens who barely spoke English. The
way these jobs were decorated was that they would receive fare wages and be
provided suitable living conditions, yet they were falsely advertised. Workers were

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often rotated sooner than later, left to face with finding somewhere to live in a
country in which they do not hold a legal status amongst other issues. This provided
the companies a high turnover rate due to low pay and the poor working conditions
(Schlosser 163). IBP also has a labor office in Mexico City and is always
broadcasting U.S. jobs.
Lack of human rights that immigrants face when working in the U.S. is one of
the issues at hand. About one quarter of meatpacking employees happen to be
undocumented, illegal immigrants. As Schlosser states, the real costs of the
migrant industrial workforce are being borne not by the large meatpacking firms, but
by the nations meatpacking communities (Schlosser 162). The issues lay with the
rise in medical costs, which are often driven by the lack of health insurance. Another
issue amongst these highly populated immigrant towns is that drug dealers often
prey on them, which in turn brings more crime. Meat companies are often raided by
INS where the employees, if found to be undocumented are treated like criminals
and deported back to there countries.
The United States and the Mexican governments depend on the cheap labor
that they accomplish through undocumented workers. Immigrant workers often fear
reporting any sort of work related accidents due to the fear of losing their jobs.
Undocumented female workers often perform sexual acts or favors to their bosses to
attain a job security. The real issue is not immigration, but the exploitation of
immigrant workers. Immigrants working in the meatpacking industry and the
agriculture business are treated poorly and although there have been several
attempts throughout the years to establish equal human and labor rights for

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undocumented U.S. workers, nothing has been successfully accomplished to help
them. Workers are typically recruited in their countries and brought here on a
working contract, upon termination or dismissal these workers must return to their
countries without the right to apply for U.S. residency or having enforceable rights.
Vulnerability makes it harder for people to defend their rights, organize
unions, and raise wages. That keeps the price of immigrant labor low, states David
Bacon. The reasons why many immigrants travel to the U.S. for jobs are for job
security, new beginnings and rights. Upon arrival, they harshly learn the truth of
these companies that recruit them from their very own country and bring them to a
foreign world that they have falsely advertised to them. Immigrant workers are often
extremely fearful of reporting any issues that may arise in the work environment due
to the fear of losing their jobs, meaning that vulnerability is common amongst
undocumented immigrant workers. They are typically separated from family
members and strive to be able to reunite with their family to provide better living
conditions. Undocumented women can perhaps face more vulnerability, which
makes it harder for them to defend their rights. In the past there have been multiple
cases of sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault amongst the agricultural
environment. Often times women are forced to perform sexual acts on the fields by
either coworkers or employers.
In Immigrant Laws, Immigrant Labor Bacon states, we need a development
that makes migration a choice rather than a necessity-the right to stay home. I
agree with Bacon on this matter because we shouldnt recruit workers from other
countries in exchange for cheap labor. If anything we should strive to provide them

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with the same human and labor rights that we as U.S. citizens have. We should
provide fair housing and the option for health insurance; we should allow these
workers that at times spend years slaving themselves for companies like ConAgra
and IBP the opportunity to apply for a legal status in the United States. Instead of
exploiting these immigrant workers by deporting them like criminals we should make
more of an effort to fight for their rights.
"Walls won't stop migration, but decent wages and investing money in
creating jobs in our countries of origin would decrease the pressure forcing us to
leave home (Bacon). Organizations like NAFTA (North American Free Trade
Agreement) passed a bill that stated that Canada, Mexico and the U.S. would
provide fairly waged jobs for their citizens according to that countries demand in
jobs. The purpose of that bill was to prevent the increase of illegal immigration, yet
that wasnt accomplished and immigrant workers are still being recruited and
underpaid. As often as these immigrants are being recruited, as often as they are
being deported back to their countries with zero rights and unfair wages. We should
increase the jobs we create for our citizens, which in turn will decrease the amount
of illegal immigration. Penalizing us by making it illegal for us to work won't stop
migration, since it doesn't deal with why people come"(Bacon).
It is obvious the issues we face as a country when it comes to the
meatpacking industry and farming, whether its issues dealing with improper handling
and treating of the animals at the farms and then the slaughterhouse or the issues of
illegal immigration and the exploitation of many undocumented. ConAgra Beef
Company and IBP amongst several other companies dont see the worker as a

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human therefore they do not care to provide them with rights or even the fair wages
that they deserve. Amongst those issues, it is also obvious that many children,
women and men are traveling to the U.S. for these underpaid jobs with the hopes of
having a new future with rights. Often times, these immigrants have left family
members behind. Lastly, I believe that as a country we must strive hard to create
jobs for these immigrants in their countries so that they do not enter a place in which
they are discriminated. They are no less human than us just because they do not
fully speak English or do jobs that are underpaid. As a nation it is our duty to help
each other out, rather than tear those less fortunate down.

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Bacon, David. Immigrant Labor, Immigrant Rights. NACLA Report on the
Americas. 47.1 (Spring 2014): 64-69. EBSCOHost. Web. 17 November 2014
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. Houghton- Mifflin Company. Copyright 2002.

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