Osiel López Pérez started working at a Case Farms chicken plant when he was 16 years old, too young by law to work in a factory. In April, 2015 a machine he was cleaning “literally ripped off his left leg” after he fell into it and it turned on. Osiel was rushed to a medical center where surgeons amputated his lower leg.
Back at the plant, Osiel’s supervisors hurriedly demanded workers’ identification papers. Technically, Osiel worked for Case Farms’ closely affiliated sanitation contractor, and suddenly the bosses seemed to care about immigration status. Within days, Osiel and several others — all underage and undocumented — were fired.
As one of the most dangerous companies in the U.S. for workers, Case Farms sought out immigrants for their labor force, then used America’s laws against them when they got injured or fought for better working conditions. For 25 years, Mayans from an isolated string of villages in the northwestern highlands of Guatemala have made their way to blue-collar towns in Ohio and North Carolina to work in Case Farm chicken plants.
This project was produced for ProPublica. here are links to published stories