Immigrants fight back after New Bedford, Mass., roundups
Published Mar 13, 2007 11:47 PM
Hundreds of heavily armored federal, state and local police raided the Michael
Bianco factory in New Bedford, Mass., on March 6 and arrested 361 mostly
Guatemalan and El Salvadoran women. The workers’ crime: having immigrated
to the United States to try to support their families.
Children and adults picking up supplies
on March 11.
WW photos: Liz Green
The workers were targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a
10-month investigation. (Boston Globe, March 7)
In a horrific scene that played out on the sweatshop floor, women without
immigration papers were forcibly separated to one side of the room and quickly
hauled off to Fort Devens, 40 miles away. From there hundreds were flown to
detention centers in Texas and Florida. Children and families were left with
the nightmare of not knowing where their loved ones are, or how they are.
At least 140 of the workers’ children were left without one or more
parents, according to a Massachusetts Department of Social Service regional
director at a hastily called emergency meeting at the East Boston Neighborhood
Health Center on March 8. An 18-month-old baby was brought to a local New
Bedford Emergency Room with pneumonia.
A delegation from
Women’s Fightback Network
and International Action
Center bring supplies for
The entire Massachusetts political establishment—from New Bedford Mayor
Scott Lang to Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Reps. William Delahunt and Barney Frank,
and U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy—has expressed great
“dismay” at the raid and had their photographs taken with local
immigrant families. They have publicly promised investigations. The
factory’s production of army backpacks, contracted for $83 million by the
Pentagon, was produced by the low-paid labor of the women who have been
imprisoned. There is only speculation on whether production will go
A local New Bedford official told one activist that there are many other
factories in New Bedford exploiting immigrant workers the same way as the
Despite the horror of the raid and the fear of further detentions by those
without papers, hundreds of affected family members crowded the basement of St.
Anthony of Guadalupe church in New Bedford. There they organized their own
support and resistance, including everything from food to legal assistance.
Picket lines at federal buildings housing ICE offices have been called for the
week of March 13-17 by the Boston Mayday Coalition as well as groups in
Providence, R.I. (See www.iacboston.org for more info.)
On March 11, a delegation from Boston’s Women’s Fightback Network
and the Troops Out Now Coalition delivered a shipment of material
aid—baby formula, baby food and diapers—to local organizers and
community in New Bedford. A leader from the National May 1st Organizing
Committee, Bishop Felipe Teixeira, joined the group to distribute desperately
Teixeira told Workers World: “Yesterday when I came to New Bedford I
thought that this must have been what it was like in Nazi Germany when they
came for the Jews. These people came here fleeing their countries which have
been exploited by U.S. imperialist policies. They came here looking for a
better life and they have been terrorized.”
On March 12, leaders of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean
Communities, Massachusetts Chapter, is holding a news conference at Boston City
Hall to demand “of the president and the Congress an immediate moratorium
on raids, detentions and deportations until a comprehensive immigration reform
is approved by Congress,” in the light of the New Bedford raids.
“NALACC is a national alliance comprised of 80 organizations led by
immigrants from Latin American and the Caribbean who work in the United Status
to improve the quality of life of their communities.” the group
On March 13, a group of Mayan workers and representatives from the organization
Maya K’iche will speak in Boston at Trinity Church from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
about the impact of the raid on their community in New Bedford, to gain support
and to join with the overall movement for immigrant and worker rights.
Dozens of immigrant- and worker-rights activists will speak at the National
Press Club in Washington, D.C., at 1 p.m. on March 15 to announce upcoming
plans for the “Great American Boycott II” to take place this coming
May 1—International Workers Day.
Go to www.iacboston.org to read a
statement in support of these immigrant workers.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE