Setbacks at a Mississippi poultry plant could leave one small town reeling. MPB's Ezra Wall reports on the impact of recent immigration enforcement raids and how a company is struggling to regain its balance.
Morton Mayor Gerald Keeton, Senior is concerned about the welfare of his city. He says 45 percent of the revenue in his small Mississippi town is generated by poultry processor, Koch Foods. The company has hundreds of openings at its Morton plant following a raid by federal immigration officials last week. Mayor Keeton says he'll know more about his city's position later this month when sales tax totals are available. But it's not just retail purchases he's worried about.
"And also these people have purchased homes in our city and it's going to impact our banks," says Keeton. "And I think one of the banks, 20 percent of their business comes from the immigrants."
In Forest at the WIN Job Center, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security is holding a job fair for Koch Foods. Garian Dixon says, as a father of two, he sympathizes with migrant families who will have a hard time making ends meet. But he's hoping the new openings will help him end a two-year stretch of unemployment.
"I can't believe all this is happening, you know, because a lot of people needs a job," says Dixon. "I was kind of sad, too, you know, hearing about other families got to be, you know, without a job and all that."
More than 200 people applied for open positions at Koch Foods. That's fewer than the 250 or so needed to fill the vacancies. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security says it uses the E-Verify system to determine every applicant's eligibility to work in the U.S.