dimanche, janvier 28, 2007

Actualité - Reject War on Immigrants

Voice of Revolution denounces the war on immigrant workers that was escalated most recently in the massive December raid on Swift meatpacking plants in six states. Nearly 1,300 workers were profiled, shackled and humiliated, with many deported without the required hearings that same day. Most were sent out of state to military bases and kept from lawyers, union representatives and family. Workers were separated by skin color, shackled with hand and leg chains and paraded out, in an effort to impose the greatest humiliation and fear. Families lined the plant gates, denouncing the government and yelling their support to family, friends and fellow workers.

Mothers, pregnant women and men were rounded up and disappeared by the government. Their children and families, even now, weeks later, still do not know where they are. The government, in its brutality, has provided no assistance and continues to withhold full information about the workers that have disappeared.

At the time of the raids and since, the people have expressed their outrage and come forward to assist the families under attack. Teachers and neighbors organized to get children — left without their parents by the government raids — and ensure they were and continue to be provided for. Many people have taken in dozens of people who were afraid to go home for fear of more raids. Efforts were made to organize meetings and phone trees to ensure no one was left to fend for themselves in the situation.

This brutal government terrorism against immigrant workers was done in the name of identity theft, even though not a single charge of credit card fraud, or bank fraud has been made. Of the almost 1,300 people rounded up and interrogated, only 143 have been charged with using false social security numbers. And while the social security number enables people to work, the contributions they make to the social security fund are not returned to these workers, as they cannot file a claim at retirement. So the government is the one engaged in theft of billions of dollars, while the workers are being criminalized.

Outrage and support for the workers and their communities has been widespread, including hundreds of demonstrations, vigils, and union food drives. Whether these workers have been in the country for years and have children or spouses who are citizens, or only a few months, they have stood together and been joined by all sections of the people from the communities where they live and by people across the country. Demonstrations took place in Detroit, Omaha, Nebraska, and elsewhere.

The people are rejecting efforts by the government to pit immigrant and native workers against each other and to blame the workers for the failure of the government to provide an immigration policy that ends these massive raids and deportations and meets the just claims of all the workers. The broad demand of the people is to end the government raids, stop criminalization of the workers and to defend the rights of all. The immigration status of all should be regularized now — No One is Illegal!

December 12 Raids at Swift

On the day of the raids, Tuesday, December 12, more than one thousand heavily armed agents of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) staged a coordinated assault on six Swift & Company meatpacking plants. The armed agents first “locked-down” the plants and then fanned out herding the thousands of workers on shift at the time into cafeterias where they were separated according to language and skin color. Those who spoke English fluently and had light skin color were given a blue bracelet and pushed to one side, while the rest were surrounded and interrogated. Gunshots were reported inside the Greeley, Colorado plant. The other besieged facilities are located in Cactus, Texas; Grand Island, Nebraska; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minnesota. The ICE agents handcuffed and chained a total of 1282 workers at the various plants and disappeared them to undisclosed locations, refusing to reveal any details.

Word of the armed assault spread quickly throughout the working class and immigrant communities, mainly via Spanish language radio. Families of meatpacking workers, union members, and leaders of trade unions, minority rights groups, churches and concerned residents quickly surrounded the plants and began discussing how to respond to the surprise attack and defend the rights of all. The people of the community organized to track down their disappeared members finding many of them in various county, state and federal prisons and military bases. Community people also saw to the well being of families of the disappeared, especially young children who had not been picked up from school or their babysitters, as well as youth left at high schools without a guardian.

The brutality of U.S. officials is such that family, community and union representatives were denied access to the disappeared workers or any information other than what ICE and top officials of Homeland Security would reveal. U.S. officials are still denying legal or union access to some of the disappeared and have refused to clarify what they considered the legal rights of those they were holding if any.

The disappeared include workers originally from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Peru, Laos, Sudan and Ethiopia, ICE said. Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department in a statement said 600 of the disappeared are Mexicans.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents 10,000 Swift & Company workers has gone to court to try and force the government to release the identities of the disappeared, their whereabouts and to allow legal and trade union representation. The union also filed a complaint to be served on the Department of Homeland Security and ICE contending that the federal government violated and continues to violate workers’ rights.

(Voice of Revolution)

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