Pilgrim's Pride Begins To Fire Undocumented Workers

The employees at Anel's Hair Salon, a shop that caters to many Hispanics,  hoped what they were hearing were rumors. But they now know their friends and clients are facing a very real change. Hair stylist Antonia Garcia said,  " They said they were receiving notices they were getting called to the office and even told they had 8 days, a week to find another job or to prove their citizenship."

Hilaria Rosales, a legal secretary for an immigration attorney is seeing an increase of clients concerned about their future.   " What we've provided is a letter stating we're handling their immigration case. We've sent out a letter. I hope that will help. "

But it likely won't. Workforce Solutions has been told by Pilgrim's Pride human resources to expect a massive layoff. Site manager Melony Brown said,   " We got an estimate from the Lufkin center of about 600 people and from the Nacogdoches center about 800 people." A loss of that magnitude is certain to affect production at the processing plant. It won't be easy filling the positions. Brown said,      " It's a difficult job to fill because it is the type of work it is definitely labor work if they want that environment. "

In an effort to fill the needed positions Pilgrim's Pride has increased its starting wage to $8.00 an hour. A Hispanic church in Nacogdoches is asking for prayers for the soon to be laid off employees who were willing to work for less.

Pilgrim's Pride isn't responding to media phone calls, but we're told by Workforce Solutions that the company is hiring on the spot if the person has the correct documentation. Formal interviews will begin next week.

For the people leaving, the jobs have provided for years a means to build a better life. Garcia said her friends have,  " New cars, just got loans for houses and it's going to be really hard to find another job to pay all of that off. "

Social workers are concerned about the immediate impact the layoff has on individuals and entire communities. Dean of SFA Social Work and member of of Centro Familiar Cristiano, Dr. Linda Morales said, " It would have a major impact. They're are the bread winners of families and if they're laid off many have several children, will have an immediate impact on our entire community and on our social resources. "

The politics of immigration, a need for corporate America and a willingness to break laws for a better life are all factors in this issue. This kind of layoff has occurred before at Pilgrim's Pride and could likely happen again.