Well, at least there’s a town or two in the United States where someone who is here legally will “do the kind of work that Americans just won’t do.”

One place is Greeley, Colo., where job seekers lined up to replace the illegal employees who were lost in a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in December.

According to an Associated Press report, about 75 new workers were hired, including 30 Caucasians, 15 Somali immigrants, and seven Hispanics. At a sister plant in Grand Island, Neb., a local union leader said Swift hired 40 to 50 workers to replace illegals arrested in another ICE raid. “The lion’s share of those people were Caucasian,” he said.

Racial considerations matter to the unions and to illegal immigration apologists, but for most of the rest of us this fact is what’s most important: that people working in the United States are doing so legally, regardless of heritage. It’s vital for national security, for doling out the privileges that come with citizenship, and for employees who are obligated to the betterment of American society overall. The jobs should go to those who respect this country and strengthen it through their own enrichment.

The Swift story shows that the legal worker pool is deep enough that many will wait in line to just to fill out a job application. That might have had something to do with Swift officials’ change in approach.

“They’re trying to staff up their plants, and they’ve been raising their wages the past few weeks,” said Jill Cashen, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, to the Associated Press. “To me, it’s an example that when you make the job more attractive, you get a different kind of applicant.”

Indeed, the Swift situation illustrates the real economic costs of illegal immigration and national security. They go far beyond government appropriations for things like enforcement programs and checkpoints. The price tag is hidden also in the cost of doing business, such as hiring authorized people, scrutinizing shipments from other countries, and maintaining the safety of your own products and services.

Besides, the raids upon Swift’s plants undoubtedly cost it greatly, in things such as disrupted production, in loss of labor, and in reputation. How much did Swift really save by running afoul of the nation’s hiring laws, whether intentionally or inadvertently? How much more would it have cost the company if its legal and safety breaches led to a larger disaster?

By hiring those here legally, companies such as Swift end up paying a little more, but should (if they are smart businessmen) recover it in the cost of products or by seeking efficiencies in other areas of operations. Wal-Mart seems to have mastered that, forcing other retailers to innovate to stay competitive. Meatpacking should be no different.

Regardless, corporate leaders must factor in the costs for the peace of living in a relatively safe country. In the end, it’s good business.

Paul Chesser is associate editor of Carolina Journal.