ProPublica takes a look at a little known green-card program that allows people overseas to shell out hefty sums for the privilege of coming to America to work grueling factory jobs. It's EB-3, and in a perfect world it allows companies that can't find enough American workers to bring in unskilled immigrants. The problem, however, is that the system seems rife with abuse: "It has been co-opted by a handful of companies (mostly poultry processors) and foreign consultants who have used it to bring in immigrants willing to work for low pay in often-dangerous jobs," writes Michael Grabell. Those foreign consultants make money by recruiting people in South Korea, China, and elsewhere to apply, though they couch their services as "migration assistance" to stay within the law. Many of the takers are middle-class Asians willing to shell out for US citizenship.
The story highlights the case of Yongho Yeom, a South Korean native and computer engineer who paid $26,000 to a "migration agency," then landed in South Carolina in 2015 to work the graveyard shift for $8.50 an hour at the House of Raeford chicken processor. He did it to provide an American future for his two daughters. Critics say the EB-3 program has been abused by companies who would prefer to bring in cheap foreign labor rather than improve pay and working conditions. But Yeom, who recently opened his own business, has no regrets. “It was very, very difficult work; there’s no question about that,” he says. “On the other hand ... they provided a sponsorship through this chicken plant. For us who want to come to the US, it’s a very valuable program.” Click for the full story. (Read more Longform stories.)