Category Archives: Raids

Postville: Leaders Urging for an end to the Raids, while some want to perpetuate the cycle

More than 6 months after the devastating ICE raid in Postville, Iowa, the tiny town is still a buzzing epicenter of the immigration debate.

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Last Wednesday, religious leaders gathered to urge officials from both sides of the aisle in Washington to visit the town and see they aftermath of the tragedy themselves. They also called for an end to the violent ICE raids that have been tearing apart families and destroying communities all across the country.

“Postville is an incredible example of the aftermath and effects” of the irreparable damage an immigration raid can do to a town, he said. The U.S. senators from Iowa, Tom Harkin…

The Rev. David Vasquez was less charitable about the federal actions. The Luther College campus pastor called Postville “the whipping boy” of the government’s “misguided immigration policies,” with a raid set up to serve as an example to other industries that employ immigrants.

Meanwhile, it seems as though some officials in Iowa are continuing to cover their eyes to the realities of the current immigration system. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) praised the raid in Postville, calling it a “step in the right direction” for immigration policy in the United States.

Jeff Tilson police chief of Vinton, a small Iowa town, has said that he will work to ensure that the town doesn’t become “another Postville”. But his tactics are completely ignoring the realities of the broken system.

“The laws on the books work just fine,” Tilson [said]. “We just have to enforce them. I always tell people that I cannot create an environment where crime can’t exist, but I can try to create one where crime won’t exist. We have taken a pretty aggressive stand on illegal immigration.”

It looks like Tilson will be cracking down on immigrants in his small town – a move that is sure to push them even further into the shadows. I’m not sure which policies he’s looking at, but the laws on the books do NOT work just fine, they are outdated, unrealistic and costly (for both communities and the immigrants targeted).

It is time that people woke up to the reality of the current system. We have to find sensible solutions, that include a reform at the Federal level. Until then, these folks will just be perpetuating the cycle of injustice, pain and alienation facing immigrants in the United States today.

VIDEO: FIRE Raids ICE

So, I know this is a little over a week old, but I’m still going to post it. I meant to write about it earlier, but for some reason I didn’t get around to it. At any rate, last Thursday, December 4th, an Immigration and Customs Enforecement (ICE) meeting was raided by Flagstaff Immigrant Rights Enforcement (FIRE), at the Flagstaff Radisson Hotel.

FIRE agent Del Fuego read the notice of deportation to more than 15 ICE associated criminals, some of whom appeared to possibly be illegal immigrants themselves, as they were not Indigenous People. Agent Del Fuego called for the immediate withdrawal of ICE from the Flagstaff community and notified ICE of the cease and desist order for all future raids.

I know this was just a prank, but I think its pretty ingenius (and good for a laugh on a Friday afternoon, no?).

Finally, Some Steps to Hold ICE Accountable

ICE RAIDOn Tuesday, the NY Times published an article about complaints that are being filed against ICE for excessive use of force and brutality during raids conducted in Florida in Novemeber.

“There is a way that these operations should be conducted,” said Jose Rodriguez, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Miami-Dade County. “And this is not it.”

At a news conference, Mr. Rodriguez and others said agents had relied on vaguely worded warrants to invade people’s homes and arrest nearly anyone who looked Hispanic. In all, according to the federal agency, 77 illegal immigrants were detained in the operation, and only a handful appear to have been charged with a crime.

In the case involving the accusations of beatings, none of the men have been charged with sex trafficking. Lawyers working with the men said the agents used excessive force: bursting into their home in Homestead about 8:30 p.m., pulling their guns in front of a 4-year-old girl, then forcing all 10 or 11 men inside onto the floor in handcuffs.

This scenario sound eerily familiar to anyone else? Not only are raids systematically denying due process and tearing apart families and communities, they are excessive displays of force and police brutality. Remember my posts about the raid in Annapolis, Maryland earlier this year? This excessive use of SWAT-style force is something that happens over and over when ICE is involved.

Its good to see ICE being held accountable for their actions. The Agency has gone unchecked for too long. Let’s hope this marks a beginning of the end of their absolute power and free reign to bend the rules.

RAID in Indiana

Earlier today, the BP Whiting Oil refinery in Northwest Indiana was raided by Immigration and Customs Enforecement agents.

Eleven suspected unauthorized immigrants were arrested and charged with administrative immigration charges.

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ICE has said that the raid was especially important because it was an example of anauthorized immigrants working in areas of concern for terrorist attacks; namely one of the country’s largest oil refineries.

“While there is no reason to believe that these individuals had ill intent against our country, their illegal status represents a significant vulnerability in our national security. ICE will continue to partner with critical infrastructure facilities and ensure they have a legal workforce.”

But that’s JUST IT – these people posed no serious threat to our national security. And yet, ICE is diverting tons of resources into the symbolic arrest of 11 women and  4 men, who are working hard to make ends meet. They are tearing apart communities, all the while claiming they are making our country safer. Safer for whom? Certainly not for the scores of families separated by these policies.

Its time for a sensible approach to our immigration system. One that doesn’t compromise our values in order to look as though we are “doing something”.

Even when its about uniting, ICE continues to divide

Today is Election Day. A day when unprecented numbers of new voters and new Americans are participating directly in democracy. A day where our Nation unites around one idea – get out and VOTE! But, as usual, ICE proves to be out of step and morally bankrupt.

Today, of all days, ICE followed up on May’s horrifying raid of Agriprocessors in Postville Iowa. So far, reports are only confirming one arrests, but the message is clear – ICE is not down with Postville.

Agriprocessors was the site of one of the largest single-site immigration raids in May. Federal agents detained 389 illegal immigrant workers in an investigation that spurred the national debate over immigration and led to criminal charges against a top executive.

One woman who arrived at the church said agents arrested her husband at the plant, said the Rev. Steve Brackett. Brackett said Postville’s streets emptied quickly as word spread that federal agents had arrived.

“We only have one confirmed report of an arrest right now,” Brackett said. “The assumption is, they’re here for additional people.”

Hasn’t this community suffered enough? Doesn’t the government have a better message to send on Election Day? Our next administration will be inhereting the burden of some serious damage control. First and foremost, stop destroying our communities. Stop the raids.

An advocate for immigration reform criticized the federal action and its timing.

“It’s appalling that the federal agents chose today, Election Day, to spread fear amongst the residents of Postville,” said Marissa Graciosa, director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

Erica Palmer, a community organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, called the action “inhumane and destructive to our community fabric.”

RAID in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

From the AP:

Twenty-seven people were arrested Wednesday in an immigration raid at dairy farms in northeast South Dakota.

Thirteen people face charges of identity theft. Fourteen are accused of being in the country illegally.

I will be sure to keep you up-to-date on any developments or news from this.

UPDATE Postville: Agriprocessor CEO Indicted

Yesterday, authorities arrested Sholom Rubashkin, CEO of the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant that was raided on May 12th of this year by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

From the Iowa Independent:

The criminal complaint is the first against any high-level member of Agriprocessors management and comes in the wake of a massive May 12 immigration raid at the plant. In all, 389 workers — nearly half the plant’s workforce — were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Lawsuit Filed against ICE

As I’ve mentioned before, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (and the Department of Homeland Security), are currently enjoying an unprecented and unregulated amount of power. As ICE raids spiral out of control and their victims face more and more injustice, more must be done to reign in the agency’s politically-fueled power trip. So, its great to hear that advocates are pursuing legal ways to hold ICE accountable:

A coalition of civil rights lawyers is suing federal immigration officials who have illegally failed to release information about reported racial profiling, intimidation and denial of access to counsel by workers detained during a huge workplace raid in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the ACLU of Southern California and the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles filed a federal lawsuit asserting that the government’s lack of response violates the Freedom of Information Act. The three groups first requested basic information from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security nearly seven months ago. The government has failed to release a single document.

“The government has squandered an opportunity to allay community concerns about the manner in which it is conducting immigration raids. If the government truly believes that it is conducting these raids in a humane and lawful manner, it should release the documents this lawsuit seeks,” said NILC staff attorney Karen Tumlin.

We will be sure to keep you posted on any developments in this case.

Sherrif Joe Arpaio Strikes Again

Last week I posted on Sherriff Joe Arpaio and his anti-immigrant crusade in Arizona’s Maricopa County. It seems as though Sherrif Joe struck again last week – this time he and his “posse” raided Mesa, Arizona’s City Hall, the Public Library and a number of private homes.

The raid, which was conducted SWAT style with at least 60 armed agents, highlights the increasing tension between Sherriff Joe’s tactic and Arizona officials.

The raid angered city officials who have been at odds with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County over his efforts to fight illegal immigration.

Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa criticized Sheriff Arpaio for sending the SWAT team into his city without properly advising the Mesa police, who learned about raid when an officer discovered sheriff’s deputies assembling in a residential park about 12:30 a.m.

“Law enforcement should never put the public at risk,” Mr. Smith said.

 

In an editorial in the New York Times, the raid was called “A War on Janitors” (the targets were employees of a cleaning company), harshly criticizing Arpaio’s tactics.

Continue reading

Raids at What Cost?

Its not as though we need more reasons to condemn the immigration raids that have been tearing apart communities, denying due process and separating families. But, Frank Sharry has written a very enlightening article at the Huffington Post about the financial costs of the raids.

Remember the immigration raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, back in May? According to today’s Des Moines Register, the raid set taxpayers back $5.2 million. According to the newspaper, “That means it has cost taxpayers an average of $13,396 for each of the 389 illegal immigrants taken into custody.”

Keep in mind that the $5.2 million – disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ‑ is only what ICE spent. That doesn’t include the cost of criminal trials against the workers charged with ID crimes, indigent defense, and prison. According to an accompanying editorial in the Des Moines Register, “Prison costs alone ran $590,000 a month as of mid-summer.”

So let’s do the math, shall we? If it cost $13,396 to arrest each undocumented worker in the United States, and estimates are that there are at least 11.5 million people who fit that definition, then you, I, and the rest of American taxpayers could be looking at forking over $154 billion to ICE alone.

How much more of this are we going to have to endure? Without Just and Humane immigration reform, our government will not only continue its militant tactics against immigrants, but it will continue to fund its terror with our taxpayer money. And at this point in our history, we can afford either of the two.