On Sept. 12, some 150 activists (according to the Chicago Tribune) marched through the House of Representatives’ Rayburn Office Building, chanting for an end to deportation raids. The protesters had arrived in buses from Chicago, New York, Rhode Island and elsewhere. Capitol police arrested two Puerto Rican activists from Chicago following a tussle near the office door of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, where demonstrators taped up a letter demanding she take action for immigrant rights. The two were charged with disorderly conduct and released. Pelosi was out of town.
The demonstration also included an afternoon prayer vigil on the National Mall. The Washington demonstration was originally planned to be led by Mexican activist Elvira Arellano, who left church sanctuary in Chicago in August to help mobilize for it. But Arellano was arrested in Los Angeles and deported on Aug. 19; on Sept. 12 she headed a separate demonstration near the US border in Tijuana, Mexico. Her 8-year-old son, Saul, was part of the Washington protest, joining other US-born children whose parents have been deported. (Chicago Tribune, Sewpt. 13)
Also attending were Chicago activist Emma Lozano, director of the Centro Sin Fronteras, who works closely with Elvira Arellano, and Reverend Walter Coleman, pastor of the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano lived in sanctuary from Aug. 15, 2006 to Aug. 15, 2007. (Womensenews.org, Sept. 14)
The DC demonstration was one of more than a dozen protests taking place across the country on Sept. 12 in what organizers called a National Day of Action. About two dozen people rallied in Chicago. (Chicago Tribune, Sept. 13) In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an estimated 2,000 people rallied in Mitchell Park to protest a new federal crackdown on workers who use invalid social security numbers. Many people skipped work or school to attend the protest, and participated in a “no shopping” boycott for immigrant rights. The rally was organized by Voces de la Frontera, a local immigrant rights group. (Marquette Tribune, Sept. 13)
In Madison, Wisconsin, the Immigrant Workers Union staged a rally to raise awareness of their continuing struggle to change immigration laws and claim equal rights. IWU will continue leafleting and other actions in Madison throughout the next month, culminating in a march to the Capitol on Oct. 12. (Badger Herald, Sept. 13)
Saul Arellano, Emma Lozano and Walter Coleman spoke at events in several other cities in the days leading up to Sept. 12, including a standing-room-only rally on Sept. 10 in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Nueva Vida church. (People’s Weekly World, Sept. 13)
On Sept. 2, thousands of Latino immigrants and advocates from across the Washington, DC area marched and rallied at the Prince William County government center in Woodbridge, Virginia, to protest a strict new county law, passed July 10, that seeks to deny many public services to undocumented immigrants. Informal estimates placed turnout at 5,000 to 7,000. The event was organized by a group called Mexicans Without Borders, which also called a week-long boycott of county businesses that were not pro-immigrant or immigrant-owned. (AP, Sept. 2; Washington Post, Sept. 3)
Iowa: egg factory raided again
On Sept. 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 51 workers at the DeCoster egg processing plant near Clarion, Iowa, for being present in the US without permission. Deportation hearings will be held the week of Sept. 17 in Omaha, Nebraska, officials said. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said 43 workers were from Mexico, four were from Guatemala, three from Honduras and one from El Salvador. Counts said all but two of the workers were detained in city and county jails in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and other nearby locations. A woman with child care issues and a juvenile were released and ordered to appear at their hearings.
No DeCoster management employees were arrested. Counts said the raid was a follow-up to a 2003 action against Austin “Jack” DeCoster, the company’s owner, who pleaded guilty in federal court in Sioux City to two counts of aiding and abetting the continued employment of unauthorized workers and is serving five years’ probation. As part of the plea bargain, DeCoster agreed to a five-year compliance program that allows ICE to access his company’s personnel records on demand and acknowledges the agency’s right to make unannounced inspections of his facilities. Agents have raided DeCoster’s egg processing and packing plants at least four times since 2001, arresting about 100 workers in all. About 36 workers were arrested in the last raid in June 2006. (Des Moines Register, Sept. 14; AP, Sept. 14)
Nebraska: Tyson workers arrested
On Sept. 11 and 12 in Lexington, Nebraska, ICE agents arrested 15 “immigration fugitives”–people who had failed to comply with prior deportation orders—and one additional immigrant who was found to be in the US without permission. All 16 were citizens of Guatemala or El Salvador. The arrests were made at homes and at five different businesses, including the Tyson meatpacking plant in Lexington. Earlier in the week, ICE agents visited Tyson’s Lexington plant with questions about six workers, Tyson spokesperson Gary Mickelson told Meatingplace.com. During the Sept. 11-12 sweep, ICE arrested four workers at the Tyson plant who were among the six being sought. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts claimed the action was not a raid at the Tyson Foods facility. “These were all absconders who happened to be employees at Tyson,” he said. (CattleNetwork.com, Sept. 14; ICE news release, Sept. 13)
From Immigration News Briefs, Sept. 16
See our last post on the immigration crackdown.