Mr. President, Stop your Raids on our Communities

Last month, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus visited Postville, Iowa to investigate the effects of the immigration raid that occurred in May. Luis Gutierrez (D – Ill.) announced his plans to visit the small town during the House sub-committee hearing that I covered a few weeks ago.

Now, after the visit, Gutierrez and Joe Baca (D – Calif.) have written an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, publicly calling on President Bush to stop the ICE raids across the country.

The op-ed is powerful proof that even elected officials understand ICE raids are not only inhumane and unjust, but that they are being used as a political tool, to gain points with the nativist constituency, rather than a real solution to fix our immigration system.

You should read the full piece, but here is a noteworthy excerpt:

There is no other reasonable response than to demand that Bush remember his words of welcome and his commitment to law, by placing a moratorium on Immigration raids until we have passed effective, comprehensive reform. The nation that we love, respect and serve is better than this. Bush stood before the American people and proclaimed:

“An Immigration reform bill needs to be comprehensive, because all elements of this problem must be addressed together, or none of them will be solved at all.”

But headline-grabbing tactics like the Postville raid had nothing to do with comprehensive reform. Bush has forgotten his promise.

No one benefits when taxpayers pay $590,000 a month to jail Postville’s detainees. As a society, we fail when our factories are less safe, when the perpetrators go uncharged or when our laws remove infants from nursing mothers and create broken homes for U.S. citizen children.

We can all agree that we need Immigration reform that is tough on enforcement. However, any system which fails to respect the enormous contributions immigrants make to our workforce, that fails to reflect our proud history of welcoming those who seek a better life and that fails to protect all U.S. workers and our homeland, fails the American people.

The Postville raid failed our nation on all three of those levels. Any future raid would be equally and profoundly inexcusable and cause yet another avoidable blight on our history.

9 responses to “Mr. President, Stop your Raids on our Communities

  1. Thank God for intelligent, compassionate, articulate public officials. I only hope that we have enough courage to keep speaking out as well.

  2. yes, alex!

    we have to encourage people to be brave, to stand up and to fight for what is right.

  3. Personally I think the raid was a good thing. It got innocent children out of harms way, since they were being used to run equipment they were too young to be using. They were working too many hours a day. They were exposed to meth labs that is harmful to everyone. So many violations, so many illegal workers.
    Let’s be real people more of these raids need to take place to protect innocent people and send the illegals back home so they can begin to get their own country up to todays standard. Stop the invasion.

  4. Katie –

    I’m not exactly sure I follow your logic. You think that the raids are good because innocent children were taken out of harms way (those that were exposed to awful labors conditions). But, what about the children who have been orphaned by this raid – some of them American citizens? What about the children who have watched their mother under house arrest with a tracking bracelet on her ankle, unable to work or feed her family?

    And, like you said, “so many violations, so many illegal workers” – are you suggesting that by punishing the workers we are somehow going to avoid future violations? Those that are the most vulnerable were hit the hardest in this raid.

    And your idea that people should be sent home so “they can begin to get their own country up to today’s standards” – do you not think that our country has historically helped to keep these countries below our own standards? In Guatemala specifically (where most of the Agriprocessors workers were from), we have a long history of intervention that has helped to keep the status quo of a very small percentage of Guatemalans with all the wealth of the country, while the rest live in dire poverty.

    We cannot turn a blind eye to these peope just because you would like to categorically declare them as “illegal”. They risked everything, including death, to come here for a reason. And if you are serious about helping them to better their own home countries, you should be going after a change in our government’s foreign policy – not beating the drum of “secure our borders”.

  5. To begin with I was attempting to be positive, I thought getting children out of harms way was a good thing. You twisted it around and turned it into a negative.

    Granted, children endured a lot of pain from what they are going through but their parents knew they could get caught for being here without documentation. Who is responsible for that?

    I do not believe the workers are the only ones to be punished. Agriprocessors should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The owners know what they are doing. They need to be put out of business.

    No a blind eye should not be to these people. That is the problem. They need to understand there are legal ways to be here. If they choose not to play by the rules I guess they are willing to pay the consequences. It is sad they choose to put their children in harms way. It is a risk they are willing to take. The do- gooders need to understand aiding and abetting illegal aliens is against the law. Federal Immigration and Nationality Act Section 8


  6. I’m sorry, katie. I wasn’t attempting to “twist” what you said – just pointing out that this wasn’t necessarily a positive thing for all children involved.

    As you rightfully point out, yes, their parents were the ones who are “responsible” for their presence in this country, but obviously their parents were in a desperate enough situation to risk coming here. I’m not sure that we, as Americans, can truly understand what it must be like to try to survive in a developing country. Until we have walked in their shoes, we should not condemn the actions they take to give themselves a chance at survival.

    And yes, there are legal ways to be here. But our system is so outdated and convoluted that the legal pathways are all but impossible for even those with many resources to navigate. If a well-off and well-educated person has trouble finding a legal way to be here, imagine what that must be like for a desperately poor and uneducated person. Our system provides little help or hope for these people to find a legal pathway.

    Calling for an end to the raids does not mean turning a blind eye, it means pushing for a true and comprehensive reform of our immigration laws, instead of the headline-grabbing scare tactics currently employed by ICE.

    And as for your reference to the Immigration and Nationality Act – how about the Constitution? Many don’t seem to understand that the Constitution provides due process of the law to all persons, regardless of immigration status or nationality. The actions in these raids show a blatant disregard for that due process. So, are you suggesting that we only selectively enforce our own laws?

  7. No I am not suggesting anything. I just wanted to voice my opinion. I wanted to point out something that you and many others choose to ignore that there are reasons that the raids take place.

    No, I have never had to sneak into another country and demand everything be given to me because my country won’t give me the world on a silver platter. I have however lost my job because it is going to Mexico and now I have no health insurance which I would love to have because I do need to be seen for my health issues. But since I can’t go to the emergency room and get my issues looked into for no cost I have to hope everything is going to work out. Can you explain why American citizens do not have free healthcare but the illegal aliens do? Is this really the right way to treat Americans that have worked and paid their taxes for years?

  8. No, I have never had to sneak into another country and demand everything be given to me because my country won’t give me the world on a silver platter.

    Are you suggesting that the immigrants caught up in these raids, that are working grueling hours for little pay are “demanding everything”? And I’m not sure that your silver platter comment really speaks to the gravity of situations in the countries these people are coming from. We are talking about people living in dire povery, where little to no industry exists, with no chance of employment, no land for subsistence farming and few options for survival. Their country won’t give them “the world on a silver platter”? I think you are the one twisting words now.

    And I am sorry for your lack of health insurance, but again, you are sadly misinformed if you think that “illegal aliens” have free healthcare. It is statistically proven that they visit emergency rooms less frequently than American citizens, but nativists and people like you continue to shove these inflammatory and untrue statements down people’s throats. So, our country has failed to provide us with a solid healthcare plan – obviously it follows that its the immigrants fault, right?

    Stop scapegoating and start pressuing legislators for healthcare reform. I will support you in that.

  9. I have not heard a whole lot on the governments healthcare plan that sounds trustworthy. I do pay attention to what they are doing in that area also.

    I believe the government needs to start by setting limits on what healthcare systems charge for their services so Americans can afford to stay healthy.

    I would just like to see our country be stable again. We need immigrants to respect the laws we have in place regardless of the hardships they have at home. It is unfortunate they don’t have resources to take care of their family but somehow they can save thousands to pay a coyote.

    It was a general statement when I said they were “demanding”, not necessarily that group. You read way too much into what I am saying. Go outside the box.

    No I do not like the fact that my home town has been invaded all of a sudden with illegals but they are only doing jobs that have been done by our citizens for over 100 years. Oh well my last place of employment is moving to Mexico so maybe they will go with it.

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