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December 13, 2006

Legal immigrants kidnapped by DHS, union fights back


The Department of Homeland Security appears to have kidnapped a bunch of people this week. Yesterday, over 1000 agents, some clad in riot gear and toting machine guns, raided meatpacking plants in six states. Justin Rood of TPM Muckraker spoke to a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union that represents many of the abducted workers:

"Stormtroopers came in with machine guns, rounded [the workers] into the cafeterias, separated identified citizens from non-citizens, and then they took away all green cards and put non-citizens onto buses," regardless of the immigrants' legal status, Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) told me this morning.

Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."

Recently unsealed court documents show that DHS had identified 170 identity-fraud suspects it wished to apprehend, but that the agency wanted to round up as many as 5,000 other workers because it "further expect[ed] to apprehend persons who are engaged in large-scale identity theft[.]" Union officials say the total number of detained workers may be higher than 5,000. (Update: We've uploaded those court documents to our document collection here.) [TPM Muckraker]

The DHS says it made 1,282 arrests in yesterday's raid on Swift & Co. meatpacking plants--1,217 on immigration charges and 65 on criminal charges including identity theft. No charges were filed against Swift.

The UFCW issued a press release on the raids today, the union is seeking a federal injunction on behalf of Swift & Co. workers in Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota.


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Maybe I've got my tinfoil hat on too tight, but it seems to me that events like this became more or less inevitable the minute we established a Department of Homeland Security.

"We're still trying to find the people on the buses" sounds a lot like Nazi Germany. I'm just saying.

I know. I wish people would see how the government is using birthplace as an excuse to strip people's rights away. It's disgusting and, frankly, terrifying.

I'm a US citizen, but I wasn't born here. My partner's a legal alien (not quite a landed immigrant).

Back in my country of origin... My mom, who gave birth to me and my brother in Canada, but she just became a Canadian citizen three or four years ago, after living as a legal alien for about 20 years.

I'm a proponent of more or less open borders. Free trade in free agents, if you will. If money can move across borders freely in the new global economy, it's only fair that people should have the same freedom. After all, for those of us who don't own property, our labor is our wealth. Why should people who have bank accounts and securities get all the benefits of free trade and globalization?

As for American immigration policy, I'm for immediate access for the most attractive new prospects (scientists, engineers, skilled tradespeople, etc.), and a swiftly-processed waiting list for everyone else.

Everyone who comes to the US legally on a permanent visa should be marking time towards citizenship, if they want it.

Lindsay, are you against the inalienable right of underperforming American scientists to have jobs at elite universities?

If underperforming American scientists got jobs at the UCFW University of Poultry Packing, we'd live in something approaching a utopia, or at least a world in which I could buy a fresh duck at my corner store for chicken prices.

How 'bout it, underperforming American scientists? Union jobs? No more adjunct bullshit. Dental care? Fightin' union protection if you get swept up by the DHS?

Pretty sweet, I'd say.

I'm a proponent of more or less open borders. Free trade in free agents, if you will. If money can move across borders freely in the new global economy, it's only fair that people should have the same freedom. After all, for those of us who don't own property, our labor is our wealth. Why should people who have bank accounts and securities get all the benefits of free trade and globalization?

Yep. Nice to see a few people still have their heads screwed on right.

Interesting that your immigration policy assumes perfect labor mobility. You're working on some serious neoliberal cred there.

If anything, Lindsay, it's even worse than your post indicates:

If only for a few minutes, Maria felt like an ''illegal alien'' in her homeland - the United States of America. She thought she was going on break from her job at the Swift & Co. meat processing plant here on Tuesday, but instead she and others were forced to stand in a line by U.S. immigration agents. Non-Latinos and people with lighter skin were plucked out of line and given blue bracelets. The rest, mostly Latinos with brown skin, waited until they were ''cleared'' or arrested by ''la migra,'' the popular name in Spanish for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), employees said. ''I was in the line because of the color of my skin,'' she said, her voice shaking.

Emphasis mine.

Mass arrests are disgusting.

If they have probable cause that a specific person committed a crime, that person should be charged, and be given a chance to tell his friends and families what is going on.

If there really were that many illegal immigrants working at the factory, why weren't charges pressed against the company? That's awful odd, dontcha think?

"Mass arrests are disgusting." - Eric Jaffa

Unless they are used against the mafia and drug cartels right? Is it OK then or is it still disgusting?

I have no problem with these arrests. The main issue is that their was documented identity theft. That'sa crime by which even a CITZEN is subject to arrest. Add in the fact that ILLEGALS are working in this country on stolen identities and I see even more of a reason to conduct these raids. I do question, however, why the company is not being charged. That is fishy.

I have no problem with LEGAL immigrants working here, living here, going to school here, etc. If the proper channels are followed and you enter the country the proper way, I am all about protecting your rights. But if you enter ILLEGALLY and use false documents to do so, then you must go down...HARD!! Why is it that the left sees nothing wrong with coming to this country ILLEGALLY or stealing identities to do so. Have you ever had your indentity stolen? I know several people who have, and got lucky that the person who was going to attempt to steal mine was arrested after he pick pocketed me. It is a nightmare! That is the real crime here...the immigrant and illegal alien issue is just BS put forth by the left and immigrants rights groups to skew the issue.

SSDD. I covered the exact same story at the ski resorts in Colorado more than 20 years ago. Officials told me point blank that these raids are bullshit PR stunts designed to do nothing more than generate headlines.

The "identity theft" red herring (note that only 5% "may" be charged with this) is just an extra dose of ooga-booga for the bedwetters like B-Mo'.

It's good to know that Baghdad is not the only place where gunmen in government uniforms conduct mass kidnappings in broard daylight.

Bedwetter huh Sven? Well at least I am not some apologist for people who knowingly break the law! Illegal aliens are criminals!! What is so hard to comprehend about that? Why must people like you make excuses for them and defend their "rights"? They have no rights in this country, they are ILLEGAL!!! My goodness, it is a basic principal.

I don't care if the identity theft story is a red herring. If it gets illegals, I am all for it.

And I love the over reactions to this...were are nazi Germany! Or we are just like Baghdad...blah blah blah. Do you idiots know the first thing about wehat Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia or Cuba was/is like? Talk to people who do before you throw around your dumb ass comments like that. Pathetic. My neighbors are Russians who lived in Soviet Russia and their parents were in Germans camps in WWII. We have discussed these horrible stories numerous times. I always ask them how they feel when people like you goofs here draw these kind of parallels. They laugh at first but then get angry because the people who say such nonsense have no clue!

They have no rights in this country, they are ILLEGAL!!!

Presumably we can use them as slaves then?

B-Money, here's what I want to know. Why don't conservatives support the death penalty for anyone caught hiring illegal aliens? That would solve the problem right quick, no?

The rule of law rots from the top, B-Mo'. These raids - and the $30 billon bullshit boondoggle of a border fence - are a placebo that does nothing more than keep your whiny ass voting GOP. They do absofrigginlutely nothing to stem the flow of brown people who haunt your nightmares every night.

Someday you'll realize real live human beings are harmed in the making of this grotesque, made-for-teevee kabuki.

B-Money -

I don't want 5,000 people arrested in one day because some of their co-workers may be mobsters, either.

Law enforcement should build a case based on evidence and get arrest warrants for individuals, not engage in mass arrests.

You are a real piece of work Sven. You like to hurl insults. Well here's one for're an Asshole! You make assumptions about things that you have no idea about.

1) While I do vote GOP on occasion, I actually take the time to research each candidate, and then vote for who I feel would do the best job representing the interests of the constituency, regardless of party. I live in Chicago and this past midterm, I voted for numerous DEMs on all levels. In all likelihood, I will probably vote DEM in the next Prez election, assuming Obama wins the DNC nomination.

2) I am "brown" you dick! I am half Mexican, before throw shit like you are spewing around, watch your f'n mouth!

3) I do not agree with the fence either. We need a functional plan to stem the tide of illegal influx. How about they can come here, but they get no free healthcare, so they can't clog up our ER's and free clinics, thereby making harder for actual citizens to get healthcare. There will undoubtedly be people pissed off no matter what "solution" is decided upon.

--Ugh, aren't they actually like slaves already? Why perpetuate this new slavery. Send them home and let them work as hard as they here in their own country, thereby making things better there.

As I expected, you guys had no response to my comments on your comments about this country being like Nazi Germany. Good. Those kind of comments as asinine and need to stop. As for you Sven, get a clue and talk to me. All you want to do is throw insults and make assumptions.

"As I expected, you guys had no response to my comments on your comments about this country being like Nazi Germany. "

Heavily armed government agents seized and incarcerated legal resident aliens and at least one US citizen because of the color of their skin. Some legal resident aliens are still being held at unknown locations for no valid reasons. Yes, there were crimes commited, but they are not just arresting those guilty of identity theft or illegal immigration. While the comparison to Nazi Germany is very weak, it is not as weak as it should be.

Identity theft is a serious crime, and should be fought vigorously. But you don't fight the mafia by arresting all Italians in Manhatten.

--Identity theft is a serious crime, and should be fought vigorously.--

Illegal residence in the US is also a serious crime, which should be fought vigorously as well.

Massive fines on those who knowingly employ them will be a fine part of any solution, and may lessen the need for dramatic scenes at meat packing plants.

"The issue isn't whether we are the same as the Nazis. The issue is, we aren't different enough."
--Israeli historian Avi Shlaim

That's what this is about, B-Money. You can disagree with those of us who fight every violation of due process, but we have our reasons, and none of them have to do with "hating America." We've heard the pedantry a thousand times about how there's no concentration camps so everything Bush does is right. Shut up already. Seriously. We've all heard of the Overton window and there are things going on that are moving us from the "less authoritarian" side to the "more authoritarian" side.

And we intend to reverse this trend.

--You can disagree with those of us who fight every violation of due process, but we have our reasons, and none of them have to do with "hating America."--

I don't deny that most do not hate America, but I think a lot of them do. Convicted criminal/terrorist lawyer Lynne Stewart clearly does hate America. I'd think any number of the lawyers who so zealously defend the terrorists in Guantanemo Bay and elsewhere do so not out of a love of civil liberties but because they despise America with every fiber of their being, and they relish every opportunity to defend those who take up arms against it.

Get real.

Hey Scar, I am not a Bush wonk. Actually, I think he and his administration are a joke. So my defense of the raids has nothing to do with Bush. I do not even like to reference Bush, as I feel he is a joke. So do not tell me to Shut Up. Again you are another jackass who thinks that a person who has even one conservative thought must be a Bush lover. F*** That! I am much smarter than that. And I will have you know, I am an attroney as well (I assume you are one based on you comments), and I do my share of pro bono work helping those who need someone to protect their rights.

And too a point I do agree with that statement you quoted from Avi Schlaim. But we are no where near the Nazis or Communists or even Pinochet! But under this admisnitration we have fallen off of path. I do not agree with the limiting of rights this administration advocates. But I feel very strongly about immigration and illegal aliens, hence I can see why one MAY associate my stance as being pro-Bush...but is is NOT!

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