More on aftermath of December 2006 Swift raids

Thanks to Workers Comp Insider for alerting me to an excellent follow up on the raids. It is in CtW Connect (Courage to Win). Towns in Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska are reviewed, with lots of hyperlinks. I have included the report in full below:
The ICE Raids: One Year Later
Today marks the one year anniversary of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s (ICE) raids of Swift and Co. meatpacking plants in six cities in Nebraska, Texas, Iowa, Minnesota and Utah. In all, 1,282 Swift employees were arrested.


Photojournalist David Bacon wrote a great piece days after the raids.
Local news coverage reveals that those communities are still feeling the effects of the raids – in unfinished cases, a lack of follow-up to the federal investigations and in lingering anger and tensions among the local Latino and Anglo communities.
Greeley, Colorado
* Of the 262 people arrested in Greeley that day, most were deported to Mexico through the ICE offices in Denver. Eighteen were kept in Greeley and booked to face charges of identity theft and fraud. Of those, 11 were charged, and seven had their charges dismissed if they agreed to testify in future trials, which never came.
* Ken Buck, the District Attorney, said his office had enough evidence to go after employees higher up in the Swift organization, but it was in the federal jurisdiction. ICE and federal officials decided not to prosecute. “It was a great injustice that higher-up people at Swift were not prosecuted,” Buck said.
* When the Swift plant reopened, the jobs filled quickly, and the company said it would do a better job of checking Social Security numbers and ID papers. Months later, Swift sold the plant to a Brazilian meatpacking company, and although the sale was not related to the ICE raids, the new company admitted it has been difficult to find employees for additional shifts.
* Latino leader Ricardo Romero says the cases are still plaguing the community. “We have 26 families who have members out on bond. They can’t leave because they have to be available for court. They can’t work, and some of them can’t go to court for seven more months.”
* Latino families that remain in Greeley don’t want to talk to the media, fearing repercussions.
* Then-mayor Tom Selders lost a re-election campaign in part because he traveled to Washington, D.C. to tell of the impact of the raids on Greeley.
* Some of the deported people have likely returned to Greeley.
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition will hold a statewide day of remembrance today for the people affected by last year’s Swift ICE raids.
See the Greeley Tribune and Fort Collins Now.
Worthington, Minnesota
On December 12, ICE officers arrested 239 undocumented immigrants in this southwest Minnesota city.
* Former Swift employee Melina Martinez says although the company got new owners last summer, managers still struggle to replace the lost employees. That means more work for veteran employees like herself. She says there are still many undocumented immigrants working at the plant. She’s even heard that some of the deported workers have returned, although not to Swift.
* ICE officials say they continue to monitor the Swift plants. The agency conducted a second raid last summer, arresting 20 current or former Swift employees.
* Ruthie Hendrycks, head of a group called Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform that advocates strict enforcement of immigration laws, says there should be more raids like the ones at Swift. “We were hopeful that this process would continue. Now in retrospect, I’m not so sure if it was more for show,” says Hendrycks.
* “They left behind homes and mortgages, they left behind women, most of the time, and they left behind citizen children who were in our schools, preparing for their holiday program, and who have had to carry on,” says John Keller, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. “There will be consequences of an enforcement-only approach to immigration. We may see it one year later, we may see it 10 years later.”
See Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune.
Grand Island, Nebraska
* ICE reports that 649 of the 1,297 workers arrested a year ago today have been deported. Officials say the total number will be much higher as more cases are resolved.
* All of the 1,297 workers were given administrative charges for being in the country illegally. Of those, 274 including 26 in Grand Island were charged
* The plant was temporarily shut down while virtually every employee on the site was required to provide valid identification.
See Grand Island Independent.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union filed a class-action lawsuit seeking an injunction against future large-scale raids since the raids are a violation of workers’ constitutional rights.
The Urban Institute and the National Council of La Raza released a report last month called Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children. The report details the impact raids have on the psychological, educational, economic, and social well-being of children caught in the middle of a broken immigration system. It also outlines the heavy burden that workplace raids place on communities, school systems, social service providers, and religious institutions, which have acted as first responders for families in these incidents.
Posted by Chris Ortman on December 12, 2007 at 3:29 PM | Permalink
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