SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU)- KCAU 9 continues to follow a possible investigation into a Sioux City pork processing plant. It comes after a formal request to the U.S. State Department accused Seaboard Triumph Foods of human trafficking, harassment, and labor abuse.
The request from the State Department came from the Federated States of Micronesia in late September. The U.S. Embassy of the country said dozens of its citizens have reported human trafficking, physical and emotional harassment and other violations at the pork processing plant.
Many of the workers at Seaboard were recruited from Micronesia. The pork processing plant is one of many facilities going to other countries to help fill entry-level worker positions.
“I get calls from local employers looking for workers due to a workforce shortage,” said Heidi Oligmueller an Immigration Attorney.
Oligmueller is a local attorney that helps companies go through the process of getting immigrants into the U.S. for work opportunities.
“[The] request from the Department of Labor Certification saying there is a workforce shortage of current U.S. authorized workers and that’s not hard to do these days because there is really a shortage,” said Oligmueller.
Immigrant workers can come to the U.S. on a variety of work visas, but the Federated States of Micronesia has its own agreement with U.S. companies.
“My understanding is that a recruitment effort would take place to present employment opportunities to Micronesians people and then depending on contract terms arrange for the travel and employment here in the United States,” said Oligmueller.
“Eligible citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia are able to enter the United States without a visa, and they can work and live here in the United States. They present with their passport from Micronesia and they come and build lives here,” said Revathi Truong, a Sioux City immigration attorney.
It’s why there are currently many people from Micronesia working at Seaboard Triumph Foods after being recruited from their island home in the Western Pacific Ocean.
“So not having to worry about a visa process in order to enter the United States to work and live is a huge deal to be able to avoid both for the employer and for the employee,” said Truong.
Immigration attorneys say one of the challenges for new workers is understanding how U.S. businesses work and finding the right resource when wanting to file a complaint.