Portland, Oregon was the scene on Tuesday, June 12, 2007, of a rare and overdue raid on a North Portland food processing plant. Federal agents went into Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. and the firm supplying workers, American Staffing Resources, arresting three managers and locking up most of the arrested workers in a federal detention facility, where they face deportation, according to a story in The Oregonian.
Government officials noted that it was the largest immigration raid on an Oregon workplace for some time.
Many of the workers earned only $7.80 per hour, which is the state of Oregon’s minimum wage. Information on who worked there and the way in which they were hired was gained by an informant sent into the plant. According to The Oregonian:
“The informant told a produce manager that he was born in Mexico and had no legal documentation to work in the United States. The manager pointed him to the nearby office of American Staffing Resources, according to a federal search warrant affidavit. There, wearing an audio recording device, the informant began gathering information that culminated in Tuesday’s arrests.
In the early months of this year, according to the affidavit, managers told the informant that he could find phony identification on the streets of Woodburn. One manager eventually sold the informant a Social Security card, the government alleges.
A joint investigation by immigration and Social Security Administration agents found that during one stretch last year, American Staffing Resources had employed 596 workers. Only 49 of them had valid Social Security numbers, according to the affidavit.
Some workers have criminal records, face deportation warrants or have been deported previously, justice officials said.”
The logical question is: just whose Social Security numbers were stolen? Was it an elderly widow? Was it a disabled person, perhaps blind or mentally disabled?
Also, by being able to hire such low wage workers, was Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. driving down wages for such work? With so many workers without valid identification, could this company treat them any way they wanted?
In fact, this Del Monte plant had just paid $400,000 to settle a class action suit brought by eight ex-workers employed by another firm, Quality Manual Labor, Inc. The workers accused both Del Monte and Quality Manual Labor of violating state law by firing them for raising concerns about safety and also withholding overtime pay, break periods and safety gear for hundreds of employees. Del Monte had fired Quality Manual Labor and hired American Staffing Resources instead before the settlement was made.
Portland’s mayor, Tom Potter, was not on board with this raid, either in his official capacity, or with his heart, it seems. He said that no Portland police officers took part in the raid. He also said, according to The Oregonian:
“I certainly understand why federal officers executed criminal warrants against three individuals who stole and sold Social Security numbers”, Potter said in a statement. “But to go after local workers who are here to support their families while filling the demands of local businesses for their labor is bad policy”.
The city of Portland is a “sanctuary” city for illegal aliens. That is, if a police officer, in his line of duty, has reason to think he is dealing with somebody in the country illegally, he may not question that person as to his standing. If the suspected crime is a misdemeanor, this applies. It is only when more serious crimes are suspected that an officer may ask the status. It is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for suspected illegal entry into the country.
Concerning the sanctuary city policy, as far back as April of 2005, in a column titled “PORTLAND VS. AMERICA”, Michelle Malkin wrote:
“From the left coast lunacy files, the Los Angeles Times reports that the city of Portland is withdrawing its cops from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force:
‘This city is expected today to become the first in the nation to pull out of an FBI joint Terrorism Task Force, following a series of disagreements between Portland leaders and federal investigators.
Mayor Tom Potter and several city commissioners, frustrated by the FBI’s refusal to grant them full access to classified information, say the withdrawal will signal Portland’s commitment to the protection of individual civil rights’”.
Malkin suggested that if the Bush administration had any guts it would withhold all federal homeland security funds from the city immediately. She also pointed out that several signs indicated that al-Queda and pro-Islamists had infiltrated the area. Sorry, Michelle, it seems that perceived “individual civil rights” trump being blown to bits in Portland every time.
With a policy such as this, it is evident that the mayor of Portland isn’t alarmed at so many lawbreakers in his midst. They are lawbreakers for coming into the country illegally, taking up residence, and working here. If, as suspected, many of them have used fake identification to get work, they have broken another law. Evidently Mayor Potter doesn’t have enough sympathy to extend to those citizens whose identification may have been stolen. Identity theft is a cruel crime. Anybody who has experienced it could tell the mayor how devastating it is to have to track down which piece of life has been turned upside down and try to put it right. In the matter of Social Security identification theft, a person’s benefits may be severely affected.
One may wonder which of the other laws Mayor Potter thinks may be ignored. What about helmet laws? What about seat belt laws? What about environmental laws? These are all Mayor Potter’s concerns. What about driving without a license…..plates…..insurance? How about not paying property taxes, which provide a salary for the mayor? Mayor Potter speaks of fairness. Would it be fair to let others break the law for their convenience?
Another voice was heard, condemning the raids. This comes from Portland Archbishop John Vlazny:
“Yesterday’s raid on the Fresh Del Monte Produce plant in North Portland is an affront to a nation whose tradition has always welcomed the stranger in search of the security and livelihood which he cannot find in the country of his origin. 167 families have been torn apart.”
The Catholic Church has been one of the most fervent advocates of illegal immigration, even to the point of mounting a campaign in its churches to “welcome the stranger”. The archbishop uses his office as a moral leader to tell us what is moral and what is not. However, he forgets the long tradition of his church to obey the laws of the countries in which Catholics live and to be good citizens. Also, when he refers to the biblical admonishment to welcome the stranger he ignores the one to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s”.
One also has to wonder just which laws the archbishop would allow his flock to break. How about not paying federal taxes, some of which go to support the Catholic Charities? Picking and choosing which laws to obey are not conducive to an orderly society, which is necessary for religions to exist in peace.
The raids point out where the real problems exist. They are greed by companies who only care about their bottom lines, liberal ideas of misplaced sympathy for lawbreakers, and those who stand to gain from the influx of one particular group of people.
It is still a good idea, when observing people taking sides, to “follow the money”.
To that could be added “follow the power”.
Barbara regularly writes for CapitolHillCoffeeHouse. She also appears in California Chronicle, Border Patrol, and Citizens Caucus. Her primary interest is illegal immigration, but she writes about other subjects as well.
Barbara lives in a large city on the West Coast. Her loyalties are with God, family, country, heritage and borders.
She enjoys music, painting, poetry and song writing.