Brutal Immigration Raid

March 24, 2007

Earlier this month, a large force of heavily armed agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stormed a factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The ICE agents pulled out their guns and many workers were assaulted and injured during the raid.

361 were arrested, fingerprinted and sent to an old military base, Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts. More than 200 were immediately flown to immigration detention centers in Texas and New Mexico to await deportation. Most of those detained were mothers and caregivers to children and infants.

One 27-day old baby was hospitalized for dehydration while the mother remained in detention. In another case, both parents of 2-year old Jefferson Maravilla were detained. At first, the government even denied the Massaschusetts Department of Social Services access to the detained workers.

After several local protests and mass outrage at the abuse of the workers and their children, 60 parents were temporarily released and at least 35 children have been sent to foster care homes. The whereabouts of many children remain unknown since most of the parents have already been transported out of the state.

Defending the raid, Mike Keegan, a spokesman for the ICE said that being a single parent offered no protection against deportation (even when the children are American citizens). Keegan further said: "They made a decsion to come into the country illegally. It's hard to believe that someone would not know of the consequences when they get caught."

The detained workers, mostly immigrants from Central America, were being paid $7.50/hour by Michael Bianco Inc., a company which makes equipment and apparel for the US. military under a $84 million contract.

The inhuman treatment of the New Bedford workers and their children is part of the government's stepped up attacks on immigrant workers. In the last year, the ICE has raided factories all across the country, detaining and deporting thousands of workers without any regard for their inalienable rights or the rights of their families.

Today there are 3 million children in the U.S. who are American citizens with one or more parents who are considered "undocumented" or "illegal." One out of every 10 American families includes at least one "undocumented" immigrant.