Vigil at NYC immigrant detention center

On Dec. 13, over 100 people (50 according to the Village Voice) braved the freezing rain to take part in an interfaith candlelight vigil outside the Varick Street service processing center in downtown Manhattan, New York City, where ICE processes immigrant detainees. The pro-immigrant vigil was hosted by the New York City New Sanctuary Movement, a coalition of 19 churches that have banded together to protect and assist families facing deportation. Organizers said they were seeking to remind the public that the Varick Street processing center is often the first stop for New Yorkers who are ultimately deported and separated from their families. “People do get deported straight from Varick Street, or held here for 48 hours before being sent upstate or to New Jersey,” said Angad Bhalla, a New Sanctuary organizer. “We just wanted to highlight what is happening right downtown in a building we all pass by all the time.” Seven people from a group calling itself New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement (NY ICE) held a counter-demonstration, yelling insults at the crowd. (Report from the Varick Street Vigil by Juan Carlos Ruiz of New Sanctuary Movement, Dec. 18; Village Voice, Dec. 18)

Vigil participants included several workers who had just lost their jobs at FreshDirect, a grocery-delivery service, because they couldn’t comply with the company’s Dec. 9 order requiring them to prove they were authorized to work. Labor leaders accused the company of using the new requirement as a tool to intimidate workers and keep them from joining a union. (Village Voice, Dec. 18) In a secret ballot vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board on Dec. 22 and 23, 80% of the 530 participating workers at FreshDirect voted against joining either of the two unions that were competing to represent them. (New York Times, Dec. 24)

From Immigration News Briefs, Dec. 16

See our last posts on the immigration crackdown.