Date of Award:

2011

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Dr. Christy Glass

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to show the short- and long-term responses and adaptations of workers and employers in the meatpacking industry to the new immigration enforcement strategy of the increased use of worksite immigration raids. Worksite raids have become part of the new immigration enforcement strategy of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (I.C.E.). A review of the literature regarding the meatpacking industry, its history, relocation to and impacts on rural communities, and of immigration policy over the last 70 years is conducted. A case study of the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Hyrum, Utah that experienced a worksite immigration raid in 2006 and in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five current and former plant workers, one former member of plant management, and one local ecclesiastical leader.

The analysis reveals that the raid had strong impacts on the company, plant management, and workers. The company was sold the year after the raid due to financial losses suffered following the raid. Employers struggled to replace over 150 workers that were taken in the raid and to regain the trust of the remaining workers at the plant. Some workers lost close friends and family members in the raid and experienced instability and fear following the raid. It was found that employers made only one significant change following the raid in their hiring practices. They conducted more in-depth background checks with better follow-up with past employers of new applicants if the information was available. Workers were found to have made few changes after the raid since those not taken in the raid were confirmed as authorized workers and did not need to make many changes. The raid and more in-depth background checks led to more native-born workers being hired following the raid.

This research indicates that the use of worksite raids has strong social and economic impacts on workers, employers, and local communities. More research is needed to better understand how the meatpacking industry and its workers are adapting to the new enforcement strategy and how effective this strategy has been, and will be in the future.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on April 12, 2012.

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