The multi-billion dollar chicken business in Mississippi at heart of why state leaders repeatedly balk at tougher immigration rules

Published 11:44 am Thursday, August 22, 2019

Just days before agents raided and detained employees at Pearl River Foods in Carthage, it had already posted 200 job openings for meat cutter positions paying $7.25-an-hour.

In particular, Bomgar said laws need to be changed so that migrants who come to Mississippi to work for a short time do not feel they need to stay indefinitely to secure work in the future.

Many workers are currently “afraid to go back to Mexico for fear they will not be able to come back to work when they need to,” Bomgar said.

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The U.S. has a long history of laws — from slavery to banning women and African Americans from voting — that are unjust, unfair and don’t work, Bomgar said.

“If the laws are not producing the desired results, we should not be advocating for the enforcement of the laws, we should be advocating for changing the laws so that the laws give us the outcomes that we want,” he said.

Bobby Harrison contributed to this report.

Anna Wolfe, a native of Tacoma, Wa., is an investigative reporter specifically reporting on poverty and economic justice and the intersection between beats. Before joining the staff at Mississippi Today September 2018, Anna worked for three years at Clarion Ledger covering city, county and state government, politics and health care. She also worked as an investigative reporter for the Center for Public Integrity and Jackson Free Press. Anna earned her associate’s degree from Pierce College in Lakewood, Wa., and her bachelor’s from Mississippi State University. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her work, including being named a Food Sustainability Media Award finalist for Written Journalism, October 2018; winner of the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism, June 2018; and first place for in-depth investigative coverage from the Mississippi Press Association, June 2018. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Clarion Ledger, Sun Herald, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Seattle Times, Detroit Free Press and Jackson Free Press.