A key component of President Donald J. Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration is also enforcing the law against American citizens who wrongfully employ foreign nationals in order to avoid taxes, have cheap labor, and gain more economic advantages. The latest evidence that business owners might want to think twice before breaking employment law comes from Tennessee. The former owner of a meatpacking plant just received a year and a half in prison for employing more than 100 illegal aliens, avoiding millions in taxes, and underpaying his employees.
The USA Today reports that James Brantley, age 62, employed hundreds of illegal immigrants over the past 20 years and dodged more than $2.5 million in taxes. Brantley also underpaid his employees at Southeastern Provision in Bean Station, Tennessee. He also avoided overtime wages because he paid these foreign nationals under the table.
In April 2018, ICE conducted the largest single-site raid in decades and apprehended 97 men and 1 woman from the meatpacking plant. In September, Brantley pleaded guilty to tax fraud, employment fraud, and paying illegal aliens.
On Wednesday, Senior U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer said that he could not just "impose a probationary sentence in this case" because "to do so would undermine respect for our court system and create a situation where people would draw the conclusion that a certain class of people are treated more leniently than others."
"This is an offense made even more serious in my view because of the political climate of today," Greer added. "The impact has been quite severe for many (of the plant's former workers). Many of them have been separated from their wives, their husbands, their children. Some of them have gone to jail."
"The slaughterhouse's floor supervisors, Carl and Jason Kinser, were sentenced to three years each on probation in June," USA Today reports.
Brantley transferred ownership of the plant to his wife, Pamela.