Agriprocessors execs are finally facing some music, thanks to a 9,311-count criminal complaint and affidavit filed by Attorney General Tom Miller today. I was beginning to wonder whether the top brass would skate clear, even after their plant became a glaring national symbol for our royally screwed up, exploitive immigration system. Well, wonder no more.
Read the complaint and the affidavit here. The affidavit is on the last few pages.
The Gazette’s coverage of the latest developments is here.
These charges rise above the usual din of the endless immigration debate. This is about kids under 18, several under 16 and some as young as 14, who, according to the state, worked long, illegal hours – only to be stiffed out of overtime pay – used dangerous machinery such as meat-grinders and circular saws and were exposed to noxious chemicals, including chlorine solution. It’s disturbing stuff.
What’s amazing to me is that these crimes are only simple misdemeanors. But they can result in jail time, especially when piled 9,311 counts high.
The AG contends that Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, principal owner and president of Agriprocessors; Sholom Rubashkin, manager of the slaughtering and meat packing plant at Postville and an officer; Elizabeth Billmeyer, human resources manager of Agriprocessors, Inc.; and Laura Althouse and Karina Freund, management employees in the human resources division of Agriprocessors, Inc, all knew that laws were being broken at the plant.
That includes immigration laws. Not exactly a news flash.
“All of the named individual defendants possessed shared knowledge that Agriprocessors employed undocumented aliens,” according to the affidavit.
I still wonder when federal prosecutors will come to the same conclusion? Maybe they’re just too tired from rushing a 390 plant workers through swift mass trials. Or maybe they’re meticulously building an iron-clad case. I’m hoping for the second option, as an eternal optimist.
The new developments also raise questions.
How will Jewish organizations respond to this latest pile of charges against the country’s largest kosher processor? Several groups threatened to boycott Agriprocessors’ products after the ICE raid, so will those threats now re-emerge?
The answers are already coming in. From the Jewish news service JTA:
Following the filing of criminal charges against owners of the kosher meat producer Agriprocessors, the Orthodox Union says it will withdraw its kosher certification of the company within two weeks unless new management is hired.
“Within the coming days, or lets say a week or two, we will suspend our supervision unless there’s new management in place,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the O.U.’s head of kosher supervision.
Genack’s comments came just hours after Iowa’s attorney general filed criminal charges against Agriprocessors and its owner, Aaron Rubashkin, for child-labor violations.
Also. why has immigration reform disappeared as an election issue? Congressional candidates are getting a free pass. We need to know their ideas, or if they have nothing but soundbites to offer.
Obama and McCain rely mostly on hollow platitudes, for fear of alienating liberals or would-be minutemen. Maybe Sarah Palin can explain how she kept the Russians out of Alaska. It’s worth a shot.
So what are your thoughts on the new charges?