'Jobs Americans Won't Do' Meme Takes Another Hit in Mississippi

LaurelMSjobApplicants0908.jpgThis story didn't get the attention it ordinarily might have because it occurred during the Democratic Party's convention.

On Monday, August 25, "the largest single-workplace immigration raid in U.S. history" took place in Laurel, Mississippi. 595 workers suspected of being in the country illegally were detained.

Traditional media coverage, including this Associated Press item carried in USA Today, was predictably sympathetic towards those who were detained and their families.

But, as yours truly noted was the case with the Swift Co. raids in the spring of 2007 (posted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), there was even less national media interest in what happened after that.

The Clarion, Mississippi's statewide newspaper, is the only outlet I found that considered the following worthy of publication as a standalone story:

Applicants line up to fill jobs open after plant raid

Howard Industries found itself at the center of activity again Tuesday.

Hundreds of job applicants lined up, eager to take advantage of the sudden job openings at the plant located in Jones County, where the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent.

ICE agents on Monday seized 595 plant workers suspected of being in the country illegally. Several workers, who did not identify themselves, said Tuesday they were working and trying to keep the plant operational in the wake of the sudden loss of co-workers.

They said it was common knowledge many of their co-workers were suspected to be illegal.

It's an idea that maddens Samantha Stevens, 18, of Heidelberg, who was among those who pulled up to Avenue A across from the plant's entrance throughout the day. She said she has been unable to find a job since she graduated from Heidelberg High School in the spring and blames, in part, the willingness of companies to hire illegal workers.

"We were here first. It's not fair for them to have a job," she explained.

Others welcomed the vacancies left by the detained workers.

Gwendolyn Watkins, 40, of Stonewall said she drove 40 miles to Laurel to fill out an application with the electronics maker.

Imagine that.

You also can't help but notice that many, if not most, of the new applicants pictured above are African-Americans. How is it that self-appointed African-American leaders are expending more energy these days on "protecting" illegals insteadn of focusing on African-American citizens' well-being?

Other downplayed elements relating to what happened in Laurel included the reactions of many workers as the raids were raking place, and what initiated the plant investigation. In the middle of an oh-so-typical follow-up sob story ("Fear grips immigrants after Miss. plant raid") on August 27, the AP did manage squeeze answers to those items into the eighth paragraph:

One worker caught in Monday's sweep at the plant said fellow workers applauded as immigrants were taken into custody. Federal officials said a tip from a union member prompted them to start investigating several years ago.

Amy Beeman at All Headline News reported that "with union workers and immigrant workers butting heads, someone tipped off the authorities, causing the investigation that began three years ago."

Further, a different AP report by Holbrooke Mohr reported that it wasn't only rank and file union workers who were upset:

Union bosses in this region of rural Mississippi have long grumbled that the largest factories here hire illegal immigrants, and that the immigrants were starting to get more overtime and supervisory positions.

..... In interviews with The Associated Press, both union members and immigrants spoke of a simmering tension. At least one immigrant said scare tactics were used to pressure people to join the union.

Union members said they resented immigrants, who were often allowed to work as much as 40 hours of overtime a week when other workers were discouraged from doing so. All declined to give their names, saying they feared for their jobs.

You get the idea that Mohr might not like reporting this story in the first sentence above. When's the last time that the national press referred to "union bosses"?

..... Robert Shaffer, head of the Mississippi AFL-CIO, said Wednesday that members have long complained that companies in southern Mississippi hire illegal immigrants.

"Jackson, Hattiesburg, Laurel and all areas along the coast, it's a little Mexico," Shaffer said. "I'm not against people trying to make living. I have a compassion for those folks. But at the same time, the taxpayers of Mississippi shouldn't be subsidizing a plant that won't even hire their own workers."

In 2002, Mississippi lawmakers approved a $31.5 million, taxpayer-backed incentive plan for Howard Industries to expand. The company, with 4,000 workers, is the largest employer in Jones County, which includes Laurel.

Mohr finally did get around to telling us that applicants were lining up to fill the newly available job openings in the 20th paragraph. Then, incredibly, he followed it with a quote from an economics professor who said that Mississippi, whose unemployment rate is over 8%, has a "labor shortage."

More importantly, Mohr didn't challenge the AFL-CIO's Shaffer on the fact that he and his fellow Magnolia State union member have a take on immigration that is diametrically opposed to that of the national AFL-CIO -- which, if you have somehow missed it, almost exclusively supports Democratic Party candidates and causes.

The national organization, among other things, sponsored an "Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride" in 2003 to highlight the supposed lack of "justice for all." If you go through the photo montage at the link, you'll get to one where workers are holding up signs that say, "Legalize, Don't Criminalize." If anything, the organization's virtual-amnesty stance has grown stronger.

Mr. Shaffer and the Laurel plant's union would clearly beg to differ.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.