Investigative reporter Kathy Tomlinson began looking into the trucking industry earlier this year. At the time, she was reporting on immigration consultants who charge exorbitant fees to international students and others looking for jobs to qualify for permanent residency. Several people she spoke to had either worked in trucking or knew someone who had. They told The Globe that young people were paying huge cash sums for jobs as truck drivers without realizing what they were getting into. Often, that meant perilous working conditions, low pay and little training.
Ms. Tomlinson learned that marginal companies with bad safety records played an oversize role in that immigration racket – and that’s what made her think of the Humboldt tragedy. The Globe knew the driver (a former international student) worked for a small company that had been cited for many safety violations. That’s when it became clear how bad the outcome could be when a shoddy company puts an unprepared driver behind the wheel of a transport truck.
The Globe consulted several sources to learn everything it could about how and why the immigration system and the trucking industry were intersecting. Ms. Tomlinson scoured the government database of firms with approvals to hire truck drivers under the Temporary Foreign Worker program. She compiled hundreds of court records, U.S. safety records, job listings and other data from numerous sources on those companies.
Eventually, a clear picture emerged, of carriers with bad records also hiring foreign workers, which lined up with what people in that industry were seeing and experiencing.
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