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The Gordon Smith undocumented worker saga, begun a few weeks ago with some great investigative reporting by Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning Willamette Week, continues.

WALLA WALLA, Wash.—Three weeks after WW reported U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith’s Eastern Oregon food-processing plant employed undocumented workers—a claim the senator vigorously denied—another illegal immigrant has come forward with his personal story of working there.

Manuel Raya, a 58-year-old Walla Walla resident, says he worked at Smith Frozen Foods on and off for nearly a decade sorting corn and repackaging frozen produce—from September 1997 until June 28, 2007. He says he used a fake Social Security number he bought on the streets of Los Angeles in 1980, just days after he immigrated illegally to the United States from Guanajuato, Mexico....

Beginning in 2000, Raya was the subject of a lengthy profile that ran periodically for several months in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, a daily newspaper that circulates in Eastern Washington and Oregon. Raya suffers from neurofibromatosis, a highly unusual medical condition that badly disfigured his face. The newspaper series focused on Raya’s efforts to have the damage surgically repaired. (As a seasonal worker at Smith Frozen Foods, Raya did not qualify for employer-sponsored health insurance.)...

Yet, according to [Smith spokesperson] Lesko, Smith Frozen Foods did not learn Raya was an illegal immigrant until seven years after the initial series of stories, which were picked up by the Associated Press. "In June 2007 a production supervisor brought to my attention a newspaper article from 2003 that stated Manuel Raya was an ‘illegal immigrant,’" Lesko told WW in a follow-up email Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Raya, who now earns about $20 a day collecting and recycling empty cans, believes Smith Frozen Foods always knew he was an undocumented worker but chose to do nothing about it because, as is the case for most agricultural companies, undocumented workers provide a large supply of hardworking and relatively inexpensive employees.

Smith is still staunchly denying the allegations. The thing is, it wouldn't be at all surprising to find that some workers at Smith's plant did indeed use fake documents to get their jobs. That there have been undocumented workers at the plant isn't the issue.

The issue for Smith is two-fold. First, he keeps lying about it, denying the allegations. Second, to boost his Republican cred with his base, he takes a very hard line in the immigration debate in Congress. That kind of hypocrisy on the part of a Republican comes as no surprise to us, but Republican voters in Oregon aren't going to like it.

On the Web:
Jeff Merkley for Senate

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 06:50 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  St. McCain's Day Speech :) (0+ / 0-)

       What's he that wishes so?
       My cousin McCain? No, my fair cousin;
       If we are mark'd to lose, we are enow
       To do our country loss; and if to win,
       The more who vote, the greater share of freedom.
       God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man less.
       By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
       Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
       It yearns me not if men my gear wear;
       Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
       But if it be a sin to covet freedom,
       I am the most offending soul alive.
       No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from Phoenix.
       God's peace! I would not lose so great a triumph
       For each man’s proper share of liberty
       For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
       Rather proclaim it, McCain does, through the air,
       That he which hath no stomach to debate,
       Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
       And cab fare put into his wife’s Gucci purse;
       We would not speak in that man's company
       That fears his fellowship to speak with us.
       This day is call'd the feast of McCain.
       He that fears this day, and runs safe home,
       Will stand and tremble when this day is nam'd,
       And blush with shame at the name of McCain.
       He that shall live this day, and see old age,
       Will yearly on the vigil feast with neighbours,
       And say 'To-morrow is Saint McCain.'
       Then will he strip his sleeve and raise his arms,
       And say 'I was a prisoner, back in the day.'
       Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
       But we'll remember, with advantages,
       What lies he told that day. Then shall our names,
       Familiar in his mouth as household words-
       Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Clinton,
       Pelosi and Reid, Kucinich and Wexler -
       Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
       This story shall the good man teach his son;
       And Saint John McCain shall ne'er go by,
       From this day to the ending of the world,
       But his shame shall be remembered-
       We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
       For he to-day that casts his vote with me
       Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
       This day shall gentle his condition;
       And American citizens now-a-bed
       Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
       And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
       That voted with us – and snickered – on St. McCain’s day.

    In the final seconds of the 1993 NCAA title game, John McCain called a time out that his team did not have.

    by cskendrick on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 06:51:33 AM PDT

  •  Republicans want undocumented workers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, Randall Sherman

    out of the country...NOT!

    Sarah Palin, she be failin', voters be bailin', time to bring Quayle in?

    by wry twinger on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 06:55:07 AM PDT

  •  Another Republican lying? Say it ain't so! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randall Sherman, Alec82

    "What about me, what?"

    by Arroz on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 06:55:50 AM PDT

  •  Smith sounds like a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hardhat Democrat

    typical Republican liar.

    "What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed." -- Barack Obama

    by TomP on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 06:57:48 AM PDT

  •  Of course Gordo used illegals (3+ / 0-)

    And thankfully his poll numbers are slipping, I think mostly due to the disgusting and ridiculous ads he and the Republican orgs are running about Merkley.  My God they get deeper into the gutter every day.  

  •  Selective enforcement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, ClapClapSnap

    Most companies employ undocumented workers... but IOKIYAR. Make noise against the Republican administration, and you can expect a visit from La Migra. Don't, and don't.

    I'm not a Democrat, I'm a liberal. Democrats go to meetings.

    by willie horton on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 07:01:01 AM PDT

  •  It would be IMPOSSIBLE for Smith to run (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zapp Branigan, ClapClapSnap

    his operation with only legal workers.  He'd have to pay them more, they would be more likely to, um ... get an education and find better work, complain about working conditions etc.

    The documentation requirements necessary to ensure compliance with the law are very slack.  There is no requirement to keep copies.  There is no requirement to verify anything.  Just a pretense really.  This was part of the 1986 immigration reform law, which was deliberately set up this way.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 07:02:59 AM PDT

  •  Merkley now leading (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hardhat Democrat, negev79

    according to SUSA, by two points.

  •  i humbly apologize for the OT comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but this is my only chance to comment this morning, so I just want to make sure that we begin calling McCain "Senator McChicken" all day.

    McCain/Palin: Jan. 09-Apr. 09; then what?

    by ronnyg on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 07:04:48 AM PDT

  •  Heads up for Merkley Campaign Site... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hardhat Democrat, negev79

    Bandwidth exceeded.



  •  Republicans have adopted a new level of (0+ / 0-)

    shamelessness about lying lately.

    It's always been one of their main strategies for getting elected and staying in power, and it's always been bad...

    But lately, from McCain on down, we're seeing the most blatant, ridiculous, inartful lying ever.    Denying stuff that is obviously true, clear, provable, with documentation.

    It's their new strategy:  Confuse-A-Cat.  

    JOHN McCAIN = George W. Bush's 3rd term.

    by chumley on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 07:07:37 AM PDT

  •  I know when Smith is lying (0+ / 0-)

    It's when his lips are moving

    I shall not rest until right wing conservatives are 4th party gadflies limited to offering minor corrections on legislation once or twice a year.

    by davefromqueens on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 07:21:48 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, mcjoan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hardhat Democrat, sarahlane, negev79

    for focusing on our Senate race. Merkley's gonna' win this thing!

  •  Given the attention to the ads against Franken (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and the fundraiser that resulted, have you not noticed Gordon Smith's ad that literally accuses Merkley of "supporting rapists?" Of course, the "evidence" is built entirely of lies...

    "I want to be done playing this lady Nov. 5, so if anybody can help me be done playing this lady Nov. 5, that would be good for me." -Tina Fey on Sarah Palin

    by Michael D on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 07:31:15 AM PDT

    •  Links (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "I want to be done playing this lady Nov. 5, so if anybody can help me be done playing this lady Nov. 5, that would be good for me." -Tina Fey on Sarah Palin

      by Michael D on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 07:38:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the ad is technically true (0+ / 0-)

      You can't say it's built entirely of lies; the facts in the ad are correct. He voted against the bills that they said he did, and the bills do what Smith claimed they do.

      Now, Merkley's voted the right way on other bills, but he did in fact vote against life terms without parole, and against extended the statute of limitations.

      As for Smith and undocumented workers, having them is not illegal or evidence of a crime. So far there's no evidence WW has been able to present that shows Smith Foods' process was negligent. Maybe it was; it wouldn't be the first company. But without that I don't see the story, really.'s Progressive Community

      by torridjoe on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 10:49:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's more important... (0+ / 0-)

        ...insofar as the wingnuts are concerned.

        I realize they may be a minority of the electorate in OR, but, anything to turn off the GOP base from voting for Smith helps.  Especially in a race likely to be close.

      •  Merkley voted for life sentences (0+ / 0-)

        Saying he voted against life sentences suggests otherwise.

        "I want to be done playing this lady Nov. 5, so if anybody can help me be done playing this lady Nov. 5, that would be good for me." -Tina Fey on Sarah Palin

        by Michael D on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 01:12:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Merkley's up in the latest poll! (SUSA) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahlane, negev79

    44-42. Good numbers, hope it sets the trend. Smith's campaign is really back firing on him. Please, please please help out with this race in any way that you can!

  •  Can Gordon Smith sink any lower? (0+ / 0-)

    Its hard to see how.

    "...we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight." - Barack Obama

    by Lefty Coaster on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 08:40:21 AM PDT

  •  Hate illegals >> Hire illegals. (0+ / 0-)

    Hate gays >> Be gay.

    Love war >> Send somebody else.

    Republicans, the party for hypocrites.

    Droogie is as Droogie does....

    by vets74 on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 08:45:22 AM PDT

  •  phonebank talking point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "What has Merkley done about the economy?"

    Merkley balanced the budgets on time. For the first time in years the 2007 legislature, under Speaker Merkley's leadership, balanced Oregon's budgets while passing them on time. Political experts noted, "The budgets are done, and they have not been done so early for quite some time." Even with a downturn in the economy and lower tax revenues than expected, the 2007-2009 Oregon state budget was balanced without tapping the state’s two reserve funds. [Statesman Journal, 7/4/07; Statesman Journal, 2/10/08]

    "Smith? Like McCain, he's been at ground zero of Republican policy-making in Washington. He's a blow-dried rich twirp."

    That last sentence aside, it's the killer point right now.

    Empire was so twenty cent anyway.

    by bob zimway on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 08:58:30 AM PDT

  •  My Favority Gordon Smith Story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is how he whispered in George Bush & John Ashcroft's ears back in 2001 about scuttling Oregon's Death With Dignity act - passed twice by Oregon voters against strong Catholic Church opposition. What a representative of the people.

  •  I'd really, really... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...really, really, really, REALLY like to see us win this seat.

    That is all.

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