Immigration ban has massive impact on U.S. meat industry

Picture by US GAO (Wikimedia Commons)

By Erin Thompson

The United States meat industry is infuriated with Donald Trump’s executive ban on refugees entering the U.S., because this industry relies heavily on the cheap labor of foreign-born workers.  Refugees, with permission to work, make up a high proportion of low-skilled jobs at packing plants.  “In 2015, almost 30 percent of meat and poultry workers were non-citizens, compared to 9.5 percent of manufacturing workers nationwide.”

Because these workers are obliged to “slaughter and process hundreds of animals an hour . . . working at high speeds in cold conditions, doing thousands of the same repetitions over and over, with few breaks,” their basic rights are violated on a daily basis.

While working at a slaughterhouse, refugees are surrounded by a hazardous and unsafe environment that is both physically and mentally exhausting.  The demand to slaughter more animals within a shorter time period “fuels an array of assaults to workers’ muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves called musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, causing sprains, strains, pains, or inflammation.”

The injuries that the workers receive often go unreported because most refugees are afraid of losing their job altogether.  At the same time, the job itself has a large turnover because of the dangers it poses to the workers.

The “chain,” as slaughterhouse workers often refer to it, is equally responsible for the unjustifiable, unethical treatment of the animals being butchered.  “Due to meteoric line speeds, workers are often unable to stun or bleed animals adequately, and, as a result, animals proceed through the butchering process fully conscious.”

The United States meat industry is worried about taking a massive financial hit because of the new refugee policies that Trump has enacted.  However, these recent policies have forced the meat industry, in essence, to openly incriminate their own immoral business practices toward both the human and non-human animal.

Unlike the meat industry, the Humane Party seeks to promote and protect the rights of all human and non-human animals under the law.