Monday, February 19, 2007

Raid in Greely, Colorado Will Leave Deep Scars

Once again our Administration has effectively sent a message that if you (1) look like an alien or (2) are an alien, you will be terrorized, disrespected and stripped of your civil rights.

What many may not know is that if you have entered the United States, even illegally, you have constitutional rights. Only those who have not yet entered and are seeking admission are denied Constitutional Rights. Even those seeking admission may not be detained for an unreasonable amount of time. Certainly the raids of several companies, Swift & Co was that raided in Greely, were far beyond reasonable.

ICE has become an agency aimed at terrorizing both documented US residents and undocumented aliens.

See the excerpt of "Lockdown in Greely" from THE NATION magazine's February 26th, 2007 issue.

Lockdown in Greeley

Greeley, Colorado
On the northern edge of this frozen-over city of 90,000 halfway between Denver and Cheyenne, Swift & Co.'s beef processing plant squats like a windowless concrete bunker alongside the snow-covered railroad tracks. The winter air hangs heavy with the stench of animal waste. And the three strings of barbed wire atop the chain-link fence that girdles the facility give the hulking complex all the appeal of some forsaken, remote prison. Nevertheless, the steam snaking high and gently from the plant's smokestacks has for several decades served as a beacon of hope and promise for thousands of immigrants, mostly Mexican, who have come north looking for a better life.


At least until December 12, the holiday celebrating the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe. What materialized in front of the Swift gates that morning was more like a vision of hell. Shortly after 7 am a half-dozen buses rolled up with a small fleet of government vans, which unloaded dozens of heavily armed federal agents backed by riot-clad local police. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents sealed off all entrances and exits and formed a perimeter around the factory. Then others barged inside and started rounding up the whole workforce.

Some of the frightened workers jumped into cattle pens; others hid behind machinery or in closets. Those who tried to run were wrestled to the ground. Sworn statements by some workers allege that the ICE agents used chemical sprays to subdue those who didn't understand the orders barked at them in English. The plant's entire workforce was herded into the cafeteria and separated into two groups: those who claimed to be US citizens or legal residents and those who didn't.

While the Greeley plant was being locked down, more than 1,000 ICE agents simultaneously raided five other Swift factories in Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah and Minnesota. By the end of the day, nearly 1,300 immigrant workers had been taken into custody--about 265 of them from Greeley. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff boasted that the combined raids amounted to the largest workplace enforcement action in history. ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers would later claim that Operation Wagon Train, as the raids were dubbed, dealt a major blow in the "war against illegal immigration."

Now critics of the raids--workers, union reps, clergy, community leaders, policy analysts and lawyers--wonder what the high-profile sweep accomplished other than to traumatize a few hundred Latino families and to cost Swift an estimated $30 million in lost production. If anything, it starkly reveals, once again, a federal immigration policy completely detached from economic and social realities and a Bush White House incapable of moving ahead with much-promised reform. "What has changed because of all this?" rhetorically asks Francisco Granados, a Greeley businessman and volunteer providing relief services to the affected families. "Nothing. Nada. The whole system is set up to make you lie."

Read the remainder of the article online.


Renegade Eye said...

Good post.

Both liberal and conservative alternatives for immigrants, is bottom line based on cheap labor.

Really nice template.

This week I'll link to all your blogs.

Renegade Eye said...

Yma Sumac is Peruvian, and with records starting in the 1950s.

I got to meet Astrud Gilberto once.