Sunday, May 20, 2007

Feds crack down on immigrant labor organizers

by David Bacon. May 19, 2007. The American Prospect

Red Springs, North Carolina (5/10/07) -- To organizer Eduardo Peña, "the raid was like a nuclear bomb" - more precisely, a neutron bomb, that ingenious weapon of the cold war whose radiation was meant to kill a city's residents, but leave its buildings standing. After the immigration raid of January 24 at the Smithfield pork slaughtering plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, the factory was still intact. The machinery of the production lines was fully functional, ready to clank and clatter into its normal motion. But many workers were gone, and much of the plant lay still.

That day the migra [agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Homeland Security Department] picked up 21 people, while trying not to alert the rest of the plant's laborers. One by one, supervisors went to Mexicans on the line. You're needed in the front office, they'd say. The workers would put down their knives, take off their gloves, and walk through the cavernous building to the human resources department. There ICE agents took them into custody, put them in handcuffs, and locked them up in a temporary detention area. Later, they were taken out in vans and sent to immigration jails as far away as Georgia.

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