In October 2008, amidst claims that one of its subsidiaries was knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, North Carolina poultry producer House of Raeford Farms initiated a systematic conversion of its workforce.
Following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid that nabbed 300 undocumented workers at a Columbia Farms processing plant in Columbia, S.C., a spooked House of Raeford quietly began replacing immigrants with native-born labor at all of its plants. Less than a year later, House of Raeford’s flagship production line in Raeford, N.C., had been transformed, going from more than 80 percent Latino to 70 percent African–American, according to a report by the Charlotte Observer.
Under President George W. Bush, showy workplace raids like the one that befell Raeford were standard—if widely despised—fare. And though the Obama administration has committed itself to dialing down the practice, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has occasionally found herself the bearer of bad news to immigration activists who expected the raids to end entirely under her watch.