Editor’s note: When it comes to immigration — illegal or otherwise — the American people have a right to be concerned. Each week, Liberty Nation author Kelli Ballard examines a contentious issue related to today’s hottest topic.
In what might be considered a bizarre case, a man is suing his former employer for firing him after he complained about the company hiring illegal immigrants. The employee, Lam Nguyen, worked for Quality Sausage Company, LLC, a meat-processing plant in Texas. In retaliation for being let go, Nguyen is bringing a lawsuit based on the Food Safety Modernization Act, which prohibits food-processing businesses from dismissing employees for pointing out food-safety issues. Among those issues, the complaint suggests, is that illegal aliens could pose a threat to our food supply.
The company, of course, denies that illegal immigrants might endanger the quality of the food, but the former employee and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) disagree. IRLI filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Nguyen’s behalf, listing two main concerns: terrorism and the threat of food-borne diseases:
“As with illegal aliens who evade health screening at ports of entry, potential terrorist[s] who evade inspection by entering the Nation illegally are obviously not vetted. Indeed, when President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, he included the agriculture and food industries among the critical infrastructures needing protection.”
IRLI claimed the risk of terrorism is real because illegal immigrants wanting to cause harm use employment opportunities such as those found in food-processing plants to get inside a community with a low profile. The organization also suggests they may do so to “sabotage our nation’s food supply.”
IRLI said health concerns arise because those entering the country illegally avoid any possibility of health screening and do not have immunization or health records to provide an employer. Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI, suggested as much:
“It seems a no-brainer that hiring illegal aliens to work in a food-processing plant could pose a risk to the food supply. Those who enter our country illegally are not vetted at all … So it’s important that employees feel free to blow the whistle on illegal hiring in the food industry without fear of retaliation. We hope the court recognizes that Congress has already protected these employees in the Food Safety Modernization Act, and rules for the plaintiff.”
There are a couple of ways to analyze this case. On the one hand is the possibility of carriers entering the United States with viruses and diseases that have been all but eradicated on American soil. This is especially concerning during the current panic over Coronavirus. However, Nguyen allegedly complained only about illegal immigrants being employed at the company, not that they were showing signs of illness or working in an unhealthy manner.
On the other hand, the terrorist complaint may be far-fetched. While it is true those with sinister motives do like to infiltrate American businesses, equating terrorism with the reason Nguyen was let go, without any proof or valid suspicions, does not bolster the case.
Quality Sausage Co. might be guilty of hiring illegal immigrants, but does that mean it has endangered the nation’s food supply? It refutes the charges made by its former employee Nguyen, which claim food processed by those who are undocumented poses a health threat. The court will decide.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.