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Meat packing plant raided by feds in May

By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Aug. 25, 2008) — There are at least 25 Palauan citizens preparing to leave for Postville, Iowa to work for a meatpacking company.

Webster Franz said that there are 100 applicants for the job which will pay the workers at least $10 per hour.

Franz said that it is aware of the background of the plant, Agriprocessors, which has been raided by United State immigration federal agents in May.

Reports said that in the raid nearly 400 workers were arrested, most of whom illegal immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico.

Franz said Palauan workers legally work and stay in the U.S. pursuant to the Compact of Free Association provision between Palauan and the U.S.

The recruitment of Palauan workers by Franz came under fire by Sen. Alfonso Diaz while President Remengesau during his weekly press conference warned the workers against the company which he said has been busted several times for immigration violations.

"Palauans need to be aware of their rights and be familiar with US immigration laws if they choose to apply for jobs there," Remengesau said during the press conference.

Franz however said the recruitment is an opportunity for Palauans to get high paying jobs outside of Palau.

Franz said instead, Diaz went on air to discourage workers from applying for the job.

He said neither Diaz nor the President's Office has called him to verify the issue.

Franz said off-island opportunities first came about when he met Dr. Paul Maas Risenhoover during the Austronesian Forum here in April.

He said that Risenhoover and he discussed how they can help the people of Palau "especially at the time of hardship."

Then they came in contact with Agriprocessors who he said have agreed to assist the workers in paying for the plane tickets.

Franz said he will accompany the workers to Iowa to ensure that the job will be satisfactory and to check the situation.

Franz said because Palauans are eligible to work and stay in Palau, they can look for other jobs if they are not satisfied with their employment.

He added that the firm is looking for 60 qualified Palauan workers to work on the second shift turkey processing line.

Franz said individuals from neighboring countries such as Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has also expressed interest in the job.

Franz said he had experienced working off-island and he started with a small salary and was eventually earning $25 per hour when he returned to Palau in 1998.

"Palauans can go to the United States and succeed," Franz said.


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