Poultry Plant Workforce Affected by Trump’s Stance on Undocumented Immigrants

Workers in a poultry processing plant in Murrayville speak 13 different languages as around 50 refugees and immigrants come to Murrayville from the metro Atlanta area daily to work in the plant.

“They come up in 15-passenger vans full, so there’d be five or six vans every day coming from Clarkston up to Murrayville and going back from Murrayville to Clarkston every day,” said Fieldale Farms President Tom Hensley.

They weren’t enough.

Hensley said they could use 200 more people right away at the company’s locations in Gainesville, Murrayville and Cornelia.

In 2004, Hensley said 70 percent of their workers across all of their three locations were Hispanic. Now, that stands at 25 percent as Hispanic workforce slowly disappeared.

Enforcement on undocumented immigrants swelled since President Donald Trump took office. There were about 11,000 more arrests by deportation officers in 2017 between Jan. 22 and April 29 as compared to a similar stretch in 2016.

According to Georgia Poultry Federation President Mike Giles, it’s a tough job market statewide for poultry employers trying to find workers.

“It can sometimes be a challenge to fill out the worker ranks that are needed, and that’s been true regardless of the unemployment rate,” Giles said.

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