Clergy and workers' rights activists are calling on Smithfield Foods to use its clout to push for immigration reform.
About 40 protesters gathered outside the plant in Tar Heel Tuesday. Many demanded the company support the hundreds of immigrant workers who may be illegally employed.
Federal agents arrested 21 workers on immigration charges inside the plant last month. About ten percent of the plant's five-thousand employees have been identified as having unverifiable Social Security numbers, names or other identification documents.
Company spokesman Dennis Pittman said Smithfield has repeatedly called for immigration reform and asked federal lawmakers to change the existing system. But he says company officials must follow the law.