The casualties in the raging war on workers keep piling up. The latest slavery example comes from Beantown where the owner of Stash’s Pizza was arrested for forced labor by illegal immigrants. The allegations in this case are horrific and include actual violence, threat of violence, and wage theft, to force people to work for the profit of the employer. This worrying trend keeps growing and growing with more wage theft, slavery, and child labor popping up seemingly everyday, while policymakers in Washington spend their days scheming new and exciting ways to import more foreign labor for the meat grinder.
Stavros Papantoniadis, the owner of Stash’s Pizza, allegedly targeted illegal immigrants for years and forced them to work six to seven days a week with beatings and threats. So much for the old canard of not being able to find American workers. We see the targeting of foreign workers across the labor landscape. The treatment of these vulnerable workers makes clear why employers are laser focused on importing more foreign labor: they simply want people to exploit so they can increase their profit margins. As for Congress, they are laser focused on fundraising calls to the employers, so it is see no evil, hear no evil.
But evil is definitely afoot. Take a look at this description of the violence against a worker and try to imagine how anyone can credibly claim it is compassionate to entice more and more foreign workers to the United States:
“According to the charging documents, Victim 1 worked at Stash’s Pizza from 2001 to 2015. During his time there, it is alleged that Papantoniadis repeatedly made derogatory comments about Victim 1’s religion and violently attacked Victim 1 several times. On one occasion when Victim 1 missed a day of work, Papantoniadis allegedly responded by pushing him to the floor and calling him a “f*cking Muslim.” Another time, it is alleged that Papantoniadis kicked Victim 1 in the genital, causing Victim 1 to suffer severe pain. When Victim 1 sought medical treatment, Papantoniadis threatened to kill Victim 1 or report him to immigration authorities if he did not return to work. On another occasions, Papantoniadis allegedly slapped and choked Victim 1 and broke Victim 1’s teeth, causing Victim 1 to have teeth removed and causing him to wear dentures. According to court documents, as a result of the threats and violence, Victim 1 feared Papantoniadis and kept working for him at Stash’s Pizza.”
Usually, you read about working conditions like this in places like China, instead of in the land of the free. But some U.S. employers apparently have decided to emulate their Chinese comrades. Does anyone really believe that you can’t find any Americans to work at a pizza shop? Is this worth a cheaper slice of pizza to anyone? Are the growing examples of horrific abuse worth a marginal GDP bump and cheap goods and services?
It is time to acknowledge that our current immigration policies directly lead to these outcomes. Looking the other way at the border while ‘got-aways’ flood in is basically looking the other way for individuals like the victim here to be at the mercy of Stash’s Pizza’s owner. And it is not just illegal immigrants suffering, as there are a plethora of examples of exploitation of legal immigrants, as well. Our leaders in Washington are simply serving up potential victims on a platter for exploitative employers. President Biden has even unilaterally disarmed worksite enforcement at the same time as this worker-exploitation tsunami. The justifications for this intentional policy are lies about labor shortages and myths of lower prices. We know the labor shortage myth is a lie because these abusive employers are targeting foreign workers intentionally and layoffs are surging while employers whine that they cannot find American workers. Meanwhile, anyone shopping for goods and services today sees that abusing foreign workers is not stopping inflation.
If Congress wants to wake up, there is plenty that can be done. As exploitation of children and slavery expands, E-Verify is now clearly the biggest anti-slavery and anti-child labor arrow in the policy quiver. Several states are pushing E-Verify currently, most notably Florida, but Congress could finally keep a promise made in the 1980s and make E-Verify mandatory for all employers in the United States. This would abolish the modern day slavery of illegal immigrants and shut off the job magnet enticing millions to make the dangerous trip to the border. Congress could also use the appropriations process to defund the disastrous policies of the Biden Administration, like their memo blocking worksite enforcement and their illegal parole policies that create an assembly line of exploited workers. Congress also needs to focus on the safety and economic well being of workers by increasing wage requirements and labor protections across the work visa categories. Obsession with increasing the numbers in the current situation is just feeding the wood chipper. Instead of focusing on amnesty and worker shortage myths, Congress can and must choose to stop the modern day slavery and child labor sweeping across the country.
There is no way this current immigration trajectory is sustainable. You cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Building a labor market on the foundation of slavery, child labor, and wage theft is playing with matches in a river of gasoline. To look American workers in the eye and say there is a labor shortage while layoffs surge and employers target foreign workers to exploit is not going to work forever. To say foreign workers keep costs low as “transitory” inflation remains persistent destroys what little credibility remains for our institutions. There is a clear path for policies that protect workers if Congress can break the spell of their big business donors. The stakes are only the health, safety, and economic security of America’s workforce. No pressure.
Jared Culver is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA
Updated: Thu, May 11th 2023 @ 3:23pm EDT