Commentary: Businesses that hire illegal immigrants must be prosecuted

This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

With the indictment last week of a top manager at a Greenville, S.C., plant, maybe the chickens have finally come home to roost at the feet of those who run House of Raeford Farms. In both Carolinas, the N.C.-based chicken processor has flouted immigration and child labor laws, endangered workers and, workers say, fostered an environment where those hurt on the job were too afraid to report injuries.

Yet so far, most of the people held accountable for these problems have been the workers themselves. Until last week the highest ranking company official charged in this investigation was the Greenville plant's human resource manager. About a dozen supervisors have been charged as well.

But most of the punishment has been meted out to workers. More than 300 were arrested in a raid last October. Most have been deported. The lower level supervisors have been convicted and sentenced.

Now federal authorities have finally snared one of the top dogs, charging him with knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. Such high-level arrests are important if officials really want to stop the kind of illegal and risky activities this newspaper documented at N.C. and S.C. House of Raeford plants. Illegal immigrants and underage workers don't hire themselves to work in these businesses. Nor do they assign themselves to do dangerous work without adequate and effective safety precautions.

Those who run these plants do that. When violations occur, they should be held accountable.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.