Category Archives: Raids

Fair Immigration Reform Movement Condemns ICE Raid in Tennessee


Immigrant Leaders Under Attack for Speaking Out

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement condemns the raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on brave members of an immigrant rights group in Shelbyville, Tenn.

The raid occurred last week at the homes of members of Latinos Unidos de Shelbyville, after several of them spoke out publicly on the apparent abusive practices of the local law enforcement agencies and ICE.

“The raid is clearly an act of retaliation and intimidation by law enforcement officials,” said FIRM spokesperson Marissa Graciosa. “ICE launched these raids days after these community members released a report that detailed the abuse they apparently have endured at the hands of law enforcement.”

FIRM joins with other groups in calling for ICE to end these raids, and for the Justice Department to look into the allegations of abusive practices detailed in the report “The Forgotten Constitution.”

To read the report, go to:http://www.tnimmigrant.org/storage/The%20Forgotten%20Constitution.pdf

VIDEO: In the Shadow of the Raid


“In the Shadow of the Raid” is a documentary film that explores the devastating effects of the May 2008 immigration raid at the kosher meatpacking plant Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. If you’re a follower of this blog, you know that Guatemala is very close to my heart and watching the footage in the trailer below is all-too familiar for me.

The documentary, which I definitely want to see, will be premiering at the Morelia International Film Festival, in Mexico between Oct. 3 and Oct. 11. This is the type of film that can change hearts and minds about the issue of immigration. Most people in this country view the issue as purely domestic – they can only see our side of the border. I cannot stress enough how important the international perspective is in this debate.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during my time in Guatemala was that decisions we make here, policy we put into action and priorities we create for our country, are felt in a very real and direct way in countries like Guatemala. We are not separate, but interconnected. And the sooner we realize this and take responsibility for our part in this global community, the better.

For more on the documentary, visit IntheShadowoftheRaid.com

The Postville Raid: A Tale of Two Villages

The village of San Miguel Acatan, in northwest Guatemala

The village of San Miguel Acatan, in northwest Guatemala

If you haven’t already, you should check out Frontline PBS’s latest look at the impact of the Postville, Iowa immigration raid on workers from two Guatemalan villages. Watch the video here.

Guatemala is close to my heart. For two years, I worked with communities in the highlands of the Cuchamatanes mountains in northwest Guatemala. These communities, impacted by globalization, a decades-long civil war and the slow deterioration of an older way of life, are extremely transient. It was rare to meet a family without at least one (usually more) person in el norte. While I work daily to push for comprehensive immigration reform here in the United States, it is never far from my mind that there are much bigger global structures that must be re-examined if we are to combat the gaping inequities created by these structures – a task so big it makes my head spin.

For now, make sure to check out the video at Frontline. It makes my heart ache and it makes me want to go back to Guatemala, just to visit and to listen.

Immigrants’ rights violated in Connecticut Raid

ICE raid

I’ve written a lot about raids in the past year – from Postville to Laurel, we’ve seen how the enforcement-only approach of the Bush era has torn apart communities and violated basic civil and human rights.

Last week, in a rare moment of justice, an immigration court Judge ruled that immigrants’ rights were violated during the raid on New Haven, Connecticut in 2007. From the AP:

Immigration Judge Michael Straus, in decisions last week, said the ICE agents went into the immigrants’ homes without warrants, probable cause or their consent, and he put a stop to deportation proceedings against the four defendants, whose names were not released. ICE officials claim all four are from Mexico, but all four cited their Fifth Amendment rights in refusing to say what country they are from.

Two of the four immigrants lived in one home, and two lived in a second home. They said in affidavits that agents barged into both homes after residents had opened their doors only a little. The agents went into both homes looking for specific illegal immigrants on a “target list,” who weren’t found, court documents say.

Let’s hope the ruling is a sign of things to come.

Today Marks One Year since Postville

red ribbon

Today, people across the country are holding vigils, ringing bells, calling their Congressman and donning red ribbons in remembrance of the May 12th, 2008 ICE raid in Postville, Iowa.

I had big plans to write a long post about the raid, one year ago today, in Postville. I was new to the immigration debate at the time, and spent much of my first months as a pro-migrant blogger keeping up with the developments of the Postville aftermath. I interviewed people on the ground, wrote case studies on rapid response, attended a House Judiciary Hearing on raids and blogged about all of the outrageous injustices that came to light after the fact. However, as I sat down to write this morning, I realized that I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.

From the NY Times last August:

The harsh prosecution at Postville is an odd and cruel shift for the Bush administration, which for years had voiced compassion for exploited workers and insisted that immigration had to be fixed comprehensively or not at all.

Now it has abandoned mercy and proportionality. It has devised new and harsher traps, as in Postville, to prosecute the weak and the poor. It has increased the fear and desperation of workers who are irresistible to bottom-feeding businesses precisely because they are fearful and desperate. By treating illegal low-wage workers as a de facto criminal class, the government is trying to inflate the menace they pose to a level that justifies its rabid efforts to capture and punish them. That is a fraudulent exercise, and a national disgrace.

When I read those last lines, I realized how far away I feel from that moment. So much has changed since then – our President, our allies and the tone of the debate itself. I feel much more hopeful about the direction we are moving. There are certainly things that I would change about the current approach – i.e. the massive amount of funding that just went to border and interior enforcement or the court system that allowed an all-white jury to acquit three teenagers of a brutal, racially motivated murder.

But, today, in remembrance of Postville and the families, lives and communities desroyed a year ago, I’m choosing to feel optimistic. I’m choosing to believe that we have too much momentum and too much strength to not win change this year.  So much has changed, but for the people of Postville, even more has changed. The town still suffers and some of the immigrants arrested that day are still caught in the limbo of the broken system. So today, in solidarity with Postville, I’m choosing to ACT in the belief that it is up to us to create the change we want. You can too.

  1. Call your Representative or Congressman and tell them that you support Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
  2. Attend a Remembrance Vigil in your area – for a map of vigils click here.
  3. Don a Red Ribbon in solidarity with the Postville community.

Postville One Year Later: A Day of Remembrance and Action

Tomorrow, May 12th, marks the one year anniversary of the devastating ICE raid at Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. That day, hundreds of ICE agents descended on the small Iowa town. They brought helicopters, they brought buses and they brought a show of force that would rival any big-budget action flick this summer. Almost 400 workers were arrested and herded like cattle through a “fast-track” version of the American judicial system.

At the time, it was the largest workplace raid in history – sort of mind-blowing to think that since then the raid in Laurel, Mississippi has actually surpassed that number with over 600 people arrested. Postville quickly became symbolic of everything that was wrong with our country’s approach to immigration enforcement, immigration policy, human rights and civil rights. Families were separated, an entire community was destroyed and a small church, St. Bridget’s, was left to deal with the aftermath.

I didn’t come on board at FIRM until one week after the Postville raid, so I couldn’t tell you where I was when I heard the news. But, I can tell you this: witnessing the injustice of the Postville raid cemented my identity as a pro-migrant advocate. Period.

There will be a National Day of Remembrance and Action happening tomorrow. Across the country, communities will hold days of remembrance, will ring bells at 10 AM (the time the raid began) and will don red ribbons in solidarity with the Postville community.

For more information, and to find an action near you, visit the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

UPDATE: Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Immigration Reform after Last Week’s Raid

Last Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided an engine remanufacturing plant in Bellingham, Washington, ignited a quick and fierce outcry from immigration rights advocates and communities across the country. We responded and the administration listened.

The day after the Raid, after thousands of calls into the White House and meetings on the Hill, Janet Napolitano called for an investigation into the raid.

Napolitano told lawmakers during a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that she did not know about the raid before it happened and was briefed on it early Wednesday morning. She has asked U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested 28 illegal immigrants in the raid, for answers.

“I want to get to the bottom of this as well,” she said. She said work-site enforcement needs to be focused on the employers.

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The White House has now also responded through spokesman Nick Shapiro:

“Secretary Napolitano is conducting a thorough review of ICE, including enforcement,” Mr. Shapiro said. “The president believes we must respect due process and our best values as we enforce the law. The real answer to our broken immigration system is to fix it. The president has said that we will start the immigration reform debate this year, and this continues to be the plan.”

There you have it folks. We yelled and the administration answered. It looks like immigration will be on the agenda this year. Lets hope Obama keeps his promise to get the ball rolling on Comprehensive Reform; because if he doesn’t, we will be here to keep up the pressure!