Thursday, December 21, 2006

US Migration Sweep Creates Havoc for Workers' Families

Massive Migration Sweep Creates Havoc for Workers' Families by Alyssa Giachino

Families are still scrambling to get information about their loved ones a week after U.S. immigration agents arrested over 1,000 workers at meatpacking plants in six states in a massive operation targeting people working with false documents. Nancy's husband George Velasquez, originally from Guatemala, was detained in one of a series of raids Tuesday on Swift & Co. meat packing plants in Greeley. "A lot of people still don't know where they are," Olivia Figueroa, who runs a small grocery store in Worthington, Minnesota, told IPS. Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a hotline for family members to inquire about detainees, Figueroa said the information given is often contradictory. Figueroa's husband works at the Swift pork plant in Worthington, and he says production lines are slow because of missing employees. Figueroa said there are still workers who haven't reported to the plant because they are afraid of another raid.

On Dec. 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents swept in on Swift & Co. meat processing plants in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota. Production lines stopped as thousands of workers were asked to provide proof of legal residency or citizenship. ICE said the raid was part of an investigation into a "massive identity theft scheme that has victimized hundreds of U.S. citizens". Within hours, ICE had arrested 1,282 workers on administrative immigration violations. Thus far, 144 people have been criminally charged for identity theft as well as other crimes such as illegal reentry to the United States.

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