Questions about the conduct of both the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and Swift & Co are surfacing as more than 1,282 workers were caught in a sweep of six meatpacking plants, including the Greeley facility, on Tuesday.The Sioux City Journal is reporting that workers are being detained in an Iowa National Guard encampment near Des Moines.
Tim Counts, spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to confirm whether any Swift employees were being held in Camp Dodge.
“We just don’t talk about specific locations for a variety of reasons,” Counts said. “Workers are being detained in a variety of places … and not necessarily in the states they were working.”
Immigration lawyers, clergy, union officials, and social service agencies have been denied access to the detainees prompting law suits alleging due process violations.
The Grand Island Independent [registration required] notes that mothers caught up in the ICE sweeps at the Nebraska facility did not tell ICE officials that they had children at home.
But she said many mothers did not tell ICE authorities that they have children at home because they were afraid their children would be taken away from them.
As a result, many mothers were taken to Iowa for detention and many children are now staying with members of the extended family, Rawlings said.
In a separate interview on Wednesday, Audra Nava of Grand Island said she also has heard that many mothers did not tell ICE officials they had children at home because they were afraid of what might happen to their children.
The Rocky Mountain News that at immigration advocates estimate that at least 100 children are without parents after the Greeley plant raid.
But getting an exact count could prove challenging because many of the families are too fearful to seek assistance from a government agency.
When they muster up the courage to look for help, they turn, instead, to community organizations.
Sylvia Martinez, of Greeley-based advocacy group Latinos Unidos, said she calculated the 100-children figure based on the number of calls she’s received from people affected by the raid.
“We expect that there will be more,” she said. “There’s a lot of single parents that were picked up. ICE did this without regard for family values or the (rights) of U.S. citizen children.”
Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO Channel 4 reported an AP story that a Worthington, Minn., street corner notorious for its trade in illegal identification was open for business despite the raid.
One young man, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, acknowledged that he sold false identifications, but he said they weren’t stolen. He said the only way some people could find work was with his documents, and he was glad to help them.
The raid in Worthington that resulted in 230 arrests wouldn’t slow down the trade in fake IDs, he said, because thousands of people will move in to replace those who were arrested.
In an interview with Cyber News Service the meatpackers union claims the ICE raid was “an outrageous use of force.”
Jim Papian, a spokesman for UFCW, told Cybercast News Service that UFCW isn’t arguing that ICE wrongfully targeted legal workers, but rather that federal agents used excessive force in the raid.
“Our contention is that ICE said they were going in there because they thought people had stolen identities, Papian said. But, he added, the warrants listed about 170 suspects — “so they went in and terrorized 13,000 people to somehow find 170 people.”
Actions by Swift & Co. officials are also being raised by the media.
The Denver Post reports that the company filed an injunction in Texas court attempting to block the immigration raids they were notified of in an October 25 letter from ICE.
For nearly two weeks, Swift & Co. officials fought to block an impending immigration raid they knew was coming.
According to newly unsealed federal-court records filed in Amarillo, Texas, on Dec. 4, the company sought an injunction to stop U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from raiding six of its plants across the nation.
On Dec. 7, the company’s request was denied. And on Tuesday, the raid went forward.
At a press conference Wednesday, ICE officials criticized the company for essentially tipping off illegal workers to a 10-month identity-theft investigation that resulted in 1,282 arrests nationwide.
Swift’s internal investigation “was well after the time that the company knew that there was a significant problem in their work force,” said Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE.
The company’s legal counsel denies the claims by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE.
Video of the press conference can be found at The Denver Channel
Not all of the news coverage is sympathetic to the plight of the workers and their families.
Also in today’s Rocky coverage, a Latino woman who was born in Greeley “contends that people legally in the country have been unable to find work because of the influx of illegal immigrants.
The Swift raid “needed to happen” so that other people can get work, she said.”
The reader comments – largely anonymous – in response to Greeley Tribune news reports on the ICE raid have been very much in support of the federal government’s action against Swift.
ICE was a welcoming site to see. Greeley has gone down hill with housing all the illegals. Those of us who belong here are the ones that suffer. I am proud to see our government is finally steping in the right direction.