In 2019 President Donald Trump threatened to levy a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods unless the country agreed to beef up its immigration enforcement. Mexico acquiesced and deployed troops along its southern border with Guatemala, limiting the free movement of migrants. As a result, countless people have been trapped in Tapachula, a sprawling border town, in what the international press has described as an “open-air prison.”
Blaine Larsen Inc.—one of the largest potato growers in the country—must pay hundreds of farmworkers more than $1.3 million in back wages, after a Department of Labor investigation found it had systematically underpaid employees. It is at least the third time the DOL has investigated the company for labor violations in as many years.
One of every seven American workers, 21.5 million in all, are employed in the food system, which recovered relatively quickly from the 2008-09 recession. But the "workers themselves have not seen positive changes," says a new report. "Poor working conditions, below-average wages and discriminatory and abusive practices are commonplace across the food chain."