Every day Sergio leaves for work at the House of Raeford Farms poultry plant he wonders whether he'll be arrested.
It's a matter of time, he believes, before immigration agents raid the plant.
Smoking a cigarette on his porch, the 40-year-old undocumented poultry worker from Mexico speaks nervously. He says there's a growing concern among workers that immigration agents will target the West Columbia plant once they finish investigating the company's Greenville plant, less than 100 miles away.
This summer's arrests of 11 House of Raeford workers in Greenville shocked its S.C. workforce.
Dozens of workers have since left their jobs. The company is hiring fewer, if any, Latinos and has turned to state prisons to fill its production lines.
The undocumented workers who remain often skip work if they see an unfamiliar truck parked outside. Inside, they scan the doors waiting for federal agents to pour in.
"We talk about where to hide," said Sergio. The Observer is withholding his last name to protect his identity.
With eight processing plants in the Southeast and about 6,000 employees, the Raeford, N.C.-based company is one of the nation's top chicken and turkey producers. Workers stand shoulder to shoulder for hours cutting and tearing meat from thousands of birds a day.
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