WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Meredith Stewart, senior supervising attorney with the Immigrant Justice Project, on the Trump administration’s executive order using the Defense Production Act to target people working at poultry and meat processing plants:
“It is nothing short of outrageous for the president to use this power to try to protect an industry notorious for mistreating workers and putting profits above safety. It is unconscionable to try to force these workers back into unsafe – and potentially fatal – working conditions while refusing to issue health and safety rules that would require their employers to provide adequate protections. The industry has already proven unwilling to protect the people working in these plants in the face of this pandemic, a failure that has resulted in community spread, illnesses and deaths.
“All the while, people in these plants – many of whom are immigrants, Latinx and Black – have continued working to provide for their families and to ensure that we all have food on our tables. Now the Trump administration is putting their lives – and the lives of many others in their communities – on the line. A supply chain doesn’t work if the people working on it are sick, quarantined or caring for family members. They are not expendable.”
The SPLC, Human Rights Watch and other groups have reported for years on the abuses suffered by those working in poultry processing plants – people who suffer extremely high rates of injuries, are denied adequate bathroom breaks and often receive less than the minimum wage. Recent lawsuits against poultry plants in Alabama and Mississippi have also exposed rampant sexual violence and discrimination in the industry.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, see www.splcenter.org and follow us on social media: Southern Poverty Law Center on Facebook and @splcenter on Twitter.
The SPLC represents immigrants facing deportation in five different detention centers. Learn more about SPLC's Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative.