On August 25, 2008, immigration agents raided the offices of Howard Industries Mississippi headquarters and detained over 600 illegal aliens employees. Many were deported while others were convicted of identity theft and providing fraudulent and fake documents to other workers. In March 2011, Howard’s former human resources manager was sentenced to six months of house arrest in March 2011 and fined.
Because of Howard’s hiring practices, four black women filed a lawsuit against the company alleging they granted preferential treatment to Latinos. “The lawsuit claimed that one of the plaintiffs applied for a job at the Howard Industries electrical transformer plant in Laurel, Miss., every three to six months beginning in 2002, but wasn’t offered a position until after the 2008 raid. The other plaintiffs made similar allegations.” Plaintiffs further alleged the company persisted in its alien hiring practices even after their Social Security number were proven false. However, Howard insists that the illegal aliens fake documentation subverted the company’s verification process.
As many as 5,000 non-Hispanic individuals who applied for jobs at the plant between March 2003 and August 28, 2008, will be asked to participate in the lawsuit. Seventy who applied will be hired at the company. But wait, these are the so-called “jobs Americans won’t do.”
At the time of the raid, the unemployment rate in Mississippi was 6.8 percent. In 2009, the rate jumped to 9.4 percent, then to 10.5 percent in 2010, and then once more to 10.7 percent in 2011. After the raid, applicants lined up outside the plant for an opportunity to work. I challenge the allegation that these are jobs Americans won’t do. The steadily increasing jobless rate and the thousands of applicants for the hundreds of jobs filled by illegal aliens do not support this popular illegal alien advocates’ argument.
Howard Industries, one of Mississippi’s most successful private companies, makes medical technology, lighting, technology solutions and distribution and power products. The aliens worked at Howard Industries electrical transformer plant. “Jobs at Howard Industries were among the most coveted in the area, which is in Mississippi’s Pine Belt region and is home to a commercial timber industry and chicken processing plants.”
There are no jobs Americans won’t do. What keeps Americans unemployed are companies who refuse to hire them, preferring instead cheaper illegal immigrant labor. In this period of sustained high unemployment, most Americans are eager to work. If Howard had hired legal employees in the first place, the company would not have run afoul of immigration authorities. As a side note, the Mississippi General Assembly enacted the Mississippi Employment Protection Act (MEPA) effective July 1, 2008 which requires all Mississippi employers to register with and use E-Verify.