This is an issue that was all over Jewish blogs from a half-year to a year ago. I am way too slow about it. I just figured that perhaps Chirstmas is an appropriate time of the year to discuss this, given that I never discussed this case before.
If in the situation you happen to be more news-retarded than me and do not know what the case is about I will briefly mention its contents. Some time ago, not sure when, a Rabbi (I guess he was a Rabbi) who was the head of a Jewish slaughterhouse (I assume that he is a Rabbi because by Jewish law you have to be a Rabbi to be involved in slaughtering) was busted for illegal practices. What where the illegal practices? He hired illegal immigrants (which from now on I will simply refer to as "Mexicans" because they probably were considering that those are the people who work illegally in the US, maybe I am wrong on the kind of people they were, but that is all irrelevant since it is the principles behind this case that is important not the specifics). And he probably (not sure about this but I figure he must have) has hired them in an illegal manner, that is, by not respecting labor laws. I will assume he paid them below minimum wage and other benefits that he suppressed from them. The story ends that this Rabbi got busted for his practices and now was send into jail.
It is pretty clear from above that I am not very knowledgeable on this topic. But that is because I find it as exciting to read about as tuning into an episode on the View. Though this is all irrelevant because we can still discuss the case even if the specifics are slightly mistaken.
From my impression that I seen on discussion forums and blogs nearly every Jew was against Rubaskin. He said that what he did was wrong and he belongs in jail. It even felt like I was in a middle of a two minute hate. Almost unanimously all the Jews hated this guy and wanted him to be in jail. This is very rare on comments sections because some Jews are religious, some are ex-religious, and they generally disagree with one another.
I am not surprised to see that the common response from ex-religious Jews to Rubaskin was hatred towards him and supporting the punishment that was placed upon him. Because for these ex-Jews this story is an example of what is wrong with Judaism. They do not support the morality of Judaism and so they reject its Rabbis. I am not surprised therefore seeing ex-Jews agreeing with the verdict.
The religious Jews also were anti-Rubaskin. But for different reasons. Some Jews felt that Rubaskin portrayed the Jewish world in a terrible manner (as he did) and for that he must pay. Other Jews also had a reason to bend over backwards. They wanted to show themselves and say in an implicit manner that even though they are Jewish they are not going to defend another Jewish guy.
These are just my psychological evaluations of ex-religious Jews and religious Jews. And these are just my evaluations based on a few comments that I have seen on this topic from Jews. I may end up being totally off here. Maybe there are lots of ex-Jews that do defend him and maybe there are lots of religious Jews that also defend him. But I did not really see this view on sites that I have went to.
Finally, you have the crazy insane nut-case Jews like myself who do end up rising up to this case and saying that not only is it wrong to put Rubaskin in jail, not only was it wrong to bust him for doing what he did, but that there was nothing wrong in his illegal practices whatsoever. Sadly, this is not a view I commonly hear anyone say.
Let us begin with the easiest topic, jail. I will not repeat my arguments again, which can be found here. My position with regard to jail is that jail should only exist for dangerous people (like those who want to blow up a bridge). That is the same argument I used when I defended Bernie Madoff from going to jail here. It follows from this concept that since Rubaskin is not a dangerous person he cannot be send into jail. He poses no threat for the world at all and so if he is found guilty of anything his only punishment would be to pay fees.
And maybe you agree with me. Maybe you do agree that sending him into jail was excessive. But you probably do not agree with what he did. You think what he did was morally wrong and that it is a good thing that he got busted down.
My reasons for defending the illegal practices that he was doing is based on very simple economics. If you have Mexicans that are willing to risk everything they have to cross over the border under the fear of getting caught and getting into trouble to come into the US there is one thing you can be sure of. Living in Mexico, for these Mexicans, sucks. It not only sucks it sucks a lot. It sucks so much that they are willing to take such a big task and risk of getting into the US. The fact that they choose to work in a slaughterhouse for whatever conditions he was offering them means that it was better for them than anything else available. In particular, it means that it was better for them than anything else available in Mexico. Otherwise, they would stay in Mexico and other Mexicans will not come over for such a job. The fact that Mexicans were accepting such a job is only a sign that it was better for them.
The job that these Mexicans had definitely sucked. But it sucked far less than anything they had in Mexico. The problem that a lot of people do is they judge the job these Mexicans had from their own preferences. Since we live richer and better lives we see this as a terrible job to have. But we must be wiser than that, we must judge and try to see this from the preferences of the Mexicans. They have poorer and worse lives than we do so they will see the jobs offered to them at Rubashkin differently from how we would see them. What is bad for us might be not so bad or maybe even good for them.
We conclude that Rubashkin improved the standard of living of these Mexicans. How can he therefore be called evil? How can he be called that he is exploiting the the Mexicans? After all they risked all they had to come and work for him. He must have been doing something correct.
Now some people might say that Rubashkin should have offered a minimum wage job with benefits that all workers in the US are supposed to have by law. There is a problem with proposing this. Why would Rubashkin go through the hassle of hiring illegal immigrants for whom he can be busted for if they give him no incentive over regular workers? If he treated the Mexicans with the same working regulations that would have treated a US citizen then what incentive does he have to hire them? None at all. Hence the Mexicans would have never recieved this job. A job that would have definitely made their lives better off.
Consider what happens now when Rubaskin is shut down. All those Mexicans that had a job to work for him lost their jobs. As a result their lives are much poorer. It is even possible that some of them were deported or unable to find a new job. When Rubashkin got shut down the Mexicans suffered as a result from that.
It is clear to any rational mind which does not think about this case with passions what the proper just course of action would be. That is to not interfere with the operation of the slaughterhouse. Busting down Rubashkin not only ends up throwing a harmless man into a cage for an incredibly long period of time but it also ruins the lives of the poor Mexicans that were working for him. The proper option would have left alone these Mexicans that they can continue to improve their lives and left Rubashkin alone for being able to enable the Mexicans to do that.
I would also like to remind that what Rubashkin did was exactly how American accepted immigrants. When the immigrants came to American in the past generations their lives sucked. But they were better than they were previously. These people worked in (what we would certainly find) bad jobs. But this work enabled their children to live a better life for themselves. What the Mexicans are doing is no different at all considering that what they did was not illegal in 1900. Mexicans just want to make their lives and the lives of their children better off. And the way they do this is by working from the bottom, this is after all the American way. Objecting to what Rubaskin did is to reject in principle what America is all supposed to be about.