Actions across U.S. support immigrant workers
Published Oct 19, 2008 5:20 PM
Immigrant rights groups throughout the country took the occasion of Indigenous
Peoples Day, Oct. 12, to protest the government’s severe raids, roundups
and detentions of immigrant workers. This repression has increased since the
first huge outpourings of immigrants in 2006; however, activists and community
members refuse to be silent in the face of these attacks.
WW photo: Alan Pollock
The following is just a sampling of the activities that took place:
In rural Lumpkin, Georgia, more than 30
people from Alterna, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, American Civil
Liberties Union of Georgia, International Action Center and other groups staged
a mass detainee visitation to the Stewart Detention Center. The detention
center holds more than 1,700 immigrant workers who have been caught in
Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids at workplaces or stopped while
driving by local police forces for alleged traffic violations.
Some detainees had not received any visits from family or friends; very few had
legal help; none had any knowledge of how much longer they would be there. Very
few of the staff and guards are bilingual, and books and other reading
materials are not available.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan
A common issue mentioned by each detainee was the lack of medical care. An
untreated eye infection has left one man with only 20-percent vision; an
HIV-positive man isn’t receiving his complete drug regimen and another is
being given only 50 percent of the prescribed dosage.
Messages to family members were gathered and pleas for legal and medical help
recorded. The organizations are projecting a broader program of detainee visits
to monitor ICE facilities around the state.
In San Francisco, more than 150 immigrant rights activists
rallied outside a busy Bay Area Rapid Transit station in the Mission district.
Speaker after speaker demanded an end to the ICE raids in the Bay Area and
around the country.
In September alone, more than 1,100 people in California were arrested for the
“crime” of being undocumented, as ICE raids terrorized many
Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y.
WW photo: Heather Cottin
Rodrigo Ibarra from El Organizador stated, “We pledge today to continue
to fight the repression that resulted in over 300,000 of our brothers and
sisters being deported over the past year.”
Evangelina, a Latina worker who was arrested during ICE raids at El Balazo
restaurants, called upon the community to unite to stop all deportations.
Local endorsers included Teatro Jornalero, Movement for Unconditional Amnesty,
Manos Unidas Community Center and Workers World Party.
WW photo: Leslie Feinberg
A march and rally was also held in southwest Detroit. March
organizers noted: “‘Día de La Raza’ is a symbolic date
that remind us of the European invasion and colonization of America. Ironically
today ... these immigrant workers were forced out of their home countries by
the neoliberal economic policies of globalization and free trade agreements ...
imposed on Latin America by the U.S. and European governments and multinational
About 50 people gathered from the May 1 Coalition and other groups in
Queens, N.Y. Speakers from Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador,
Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Texas spoke in English, Spanish and
The immigration rights activists rallied at Wells Fargo bank, which in Phoenix
is the headquarters for fascist Sheriff Joe Arapaio. Arapaio maintains
Arizona’s Maricopa County like a police state against Latin@s and has
deputized Minutemen. Wells Fargo also leads in subprime foreclosures in
Baltimore, Cleveland and the entire state of Wisconsin, which have preyed on
mainly Black and Latin@ families.
Speakers denounced war, the bank bailouts and the plunder of the Indigenous
people that began with Columbus and continues to this day.
In tiny Sodus, N.Y., a multinational crowd of more than 40
people gathered to protest the increasing ICE terror in the area.
On Sept. 28, ICE raided a trailer camp housing workers, deporting many. Yolanda
Villa of the Rochester Alliance for Immigrant Rights, organizer of the rally,
said, “People can’t go to church, can’t go shopping,
can’t go to the laundry, without getting picked up.” Signs demanded
amnesty, civil rights, and justice for the workers, and said, “Support
Other actions were held around the country, including in Boston; Chicago;
Madison, Wisc.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Rochester, N.Y.
Heather Cottin, Judy Greenspan, Kris Hamel, Dianne Mathiowetz and Minnie
Bruce Pratt contributed to this article.
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