Latest Stories

ADM facilities in Decatur, Ill., on March 6, 2015.

Tax breaks, grants and ‘pay-to-play’ politics

Powerful agribusiness companies that regularly net billions in profits are major recipients of state and federal tax breaks, subsidies, grants and loans. Just seven of those companies have pocketed billions since 2000, according to government subsidy data from Good Jobs First. Tax experts say the companies get that money, at least in part, because of political muscle. Continue Reading

Agribusiness companies receive millions of dollars each year from state agencies and the federal government. The tax breaks, subsidies and grants they receive are in addition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture subsidies for farmers. (Photo illustration taken on March 5, 2015)

Agribusiness companies capitalize on tax breaks, grants, subsidies and loans

Tens of millions of people live off of government welfare in the United States. Some say that giant agriculture corporations do, too. An analysis of data attained by the policy research organization Good Jobs First shows that just seven agribusinesses have received billions of dollars in state and federal grants, subsidies, loans and tax breaks throughout the past few decades. Critics call this vast pool of government funds "corporate welfare." Continue Reading

The Nightingale Camp in Rantoul, Ill., is licensed by the state to house more than 400 migrant workers. The workers come north from places such as Mexico and Texas to detassel corn.

Increased protection needed for foreign workers, report says

Withholding pay, stealing documents and under-reporting hours are all common examples of employe abuses when it comes to migrant labor. A recent Government Accountability Office report highlighted areas where the U.S. visa system can be improved. It mainly focused on better keeping tabs on employer information, as the multiple federal departments that monitor migrant labor and visas do not work together. Continue Reading

Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting Director Pam Dempsey introduces Nubia Willman before her session begins on April 11, 2015. Willman spoke in-depth on T-visas and U-visas.

Investigating U-visas and domestic violence visas

Each year, thousands of people are allowed to stay in the United States under special visas because they are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking or criminal activity. Nubia Willman, a staff attorney for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, spoke extensively about the U-visas and T-visas at this month’s Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting’s workshop, “Covering the U.S. visa system in your own backyard.” Continue Reading

Miguel Keberlein Gutiérrez discusses the H-2A visa program on April 11, 2015.

Investigating work visas: H-1B, H-2A and H-2B

Miguel Keberlein Gutiérrez, supervisory attorney for the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project, discussed the most common work visas in the United States during his session a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting workshop on April 11. During his presentation, he also summarized one powerful example of system abuse when a migrant laborer died. Continue Reading

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Investigating the EB-5 visa program

The EB-5 visa program, which has grown increasingly controversial due to its lack of quality oversight, basically gives foreigners looking to invest large sums of money in U.S. businesses a pay-to-play green card. Tim Novak, Chicago Sun-Times reporter, spoke about the program at a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting workshop. Continue Reading