SEPTEMBER 11, 2008
A Republican U.S. Senator who serves on five major committees and regularly speaks out against illegal immigration owns a lucrative produce business that mostly employs illegal immigrants.
While Oregon Senator Gordon Smith publicly chastises illegal immigrants (he proudly voted against amnesty for millions living in the U.S.) for benefiting from government services that American citizens provide, he has for decades benefited from their cheap labor.
A news magazine in the senator’s home state has published an in-depth story with incriminating details that paint the portrait of a hypocrite politician who says one thing and does the opposite. And as the good senator, who is up for reelection this year, knows well it’s a violation of federal law to hire illegal immigrants.
Yet for decades the lawmaker’s highly profitable business, Smith Frozen Foods, has done just that. Located in the tiny eastern Oregon town of Weston, the company has nearly 500 employees, the majority of them from Mexico and some from Guatemala and El Salvador. The company refuses to use a federal database to check workers’ immigration status because “it doesn’t work very well.”
Practically the entire town knows that the senator’s business is an illegal immigrant haven. A local attorney, who represents Smith employees in criminal cases unrelated to their work, said her clients’ immigration status is often revealed during checks when they are arrested and booked. The attorney estimates that more than 70% of the company’s workers are in the country illegally.
An accountant who operates a tax preparation service for Spanish speakers says he has helped numerous Smith employees who didn’t have Social Security numbers file their tax returns. Because they are in the country illegally, their taxes were filed with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
The question now is; what will federal authorities do now that this information is out in the open? Will the government look the other way because it involves a federal lawmaker, who incidentally not long ago pointed out that the country cannot continue to absorb the flow of illegal immigrants.
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