Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Iowa Goes After Kosher Meatpacker on Child Labor

Agreprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, IA, and the scene of a big and controversial ICE raid in May, has new legal troubles. Already faulted by Conservative rabbis for not including justice to workers in their slaughtering and cutting of animals, and bing investigated by the feds on wage and safety law violations, now the State of Iowa is charging them for violations of child labors laws -- specifically, hiring under-age workers and allowing them to work with dangerous equipment. Agriprocessors denies knowingly employing under age workers. (See NY Times article.)

After peaking this summer, the number applying for citizenships has declined because of the higher fees. (See AP article.)

The U.S. Department of State has been denying passports to applicants who claim to have been born in South Texas and delivered by a midwife. These are mostly poor and rural. Their birth certificates signed by midwives are useless, notwithstanding the applicant may have other documentation such as baptismal certificate, school records, even discharge papers from the military. This is no minor inconveniece to those denied, since by next June a passport will be required to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. The assumption of fraudulency arises from some court cases against midwives who sold birth certificates after 1960. The American Civil Liberties Union has initiated a class action suit on behalf of those denied passports, since in many instances individuals with a right to them have been denied. (See Chicago Tribune article.)

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