DoJ Unit Issues Big Press Release on Tiny Accomplishment — Part of a Pattern

By David North on August 29, 2022

There is a little unit in the U.S. Justice Department that is supposed to prosecute employers who discriminate against either aliens (which it does routinely) or against citizens (once in a blue moon).

As we wrote last year, about 85 percent of the time the agency’s press releases deal with discrimination against aliens, and only a few deal with all-too-common anti-citizen bias. Many of their actions are suits against employers who ask for too many documents from alien workers, which is hardly a major issue.

The agency is the Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER); note the lack of mentions of citizens in its long name.

Now we have a longish press release on the subject of the latest DOJ victory over what it describes as a firm that “harvests corn”. It names but gives no location for the discriminating firm.

A phone call reveals that the firm, A. Olivarez Harvesting LLC, is in the sweet corn picking and packing business, a labor-intensive activity; it does not harvest field corn, which is done with machines. It is located in Uvalde, Texas (where the recent school mass shooting took place). The company has a web page and is apparently a large operation. The unemployment rate in Uvalde County was 4.7 percent in June, substantially above the national rate of 3.6 percent. There were 533 people recorded as unemployed in the county at the time.

Given the name “Olivarez” and the location (near the Mexican border), this may be a case where a Hispanic employer was discriminating against citizen workers in favor of H-2A workers from Mexico. Neither the press release nor the (partially redacted) settlement agreement give us the names of the workers.

The IER “victory” consists of finding that two brothers, both U.S. citizens, were denied jobs four years ago in favor of H-2A Mexican farmworkers and the company was forced to pay $14,165 to the brothers in back wages and four year’s worth of interest. That boils down to two or three months’ back pay (and interest) for each of them.

While I am pleased that EIR got some back pay for two citizens after a four-year battle, I am dismayed that its management thought that this case was worth publicizing. (As a former pressie in both state and federal agencies, I know that what you write about is what your leadership wants in the papers.)

I would hope that the mighty DoJ could find some bigger battles on behalf of citizens to brag about.