By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

After the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid of Load Trail LLC in August 2018, where 160 employees were detained due to their undocumented status, Load Trail and other manufacturers in the area have not been able to fill their welder positions with qualified employees.

Besides the raid on Load Trail, ICE is auditing the I-9 forms of all other trailer manufacturers in the county. This has caused numerous employees to quit their jobs in order not to be determined and detained to be undocumented workers, subject to deportation.

Load Trail CEO Kevin Hiebert stated "I think the manufacturing industry in Texas, any kind of steel fabrication construction, depends on illegal immigrant labor.” Due to the lack of this workforce, numerous manufacturers have stated their production is down by as much as 40%.

One group seeking to fill the void is Paris Junior College. Instructor Matt Siddens hopes the shortage will attract more people to the industry. "It is an opportunity for young people and I see more people coming into it and wanting to learn the trade so it gives me some hope," said Siddens.