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   Vol. 70/No. 49           December 25, 2006  
Protest gov't raids of packing plants
The labor movement and working people everywhere should join with packinghouse workers and their relatives who have loudly protested the recent immigration raids at six Swift plants across the country. We should demand the immediate release of all arrested workers.

This is an attack on all workers. The immigration cops, once again aiding the bosses, are trying to terrorize immigrant workers in order to perpetuate their second-class status—lower wages, unsafe conditions, abusive treatment—and to divide working people, pitting U.S. residents against those without papers.

In six states, 1,000 cops, many in riot gear, stormed the plants and dragged off hundreds of workers in chains and handcuffs. In an effort to tar the meat packers as criminals, immigration officials declared they were arresting them for “identity theft” that supposedly “victimized many U.S. citizens and lawful residents.” Workers at five of the six plants—a total of 10,000—are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

It’s no coincidence the federal cops conducted their raids in the wake of the November 16-17 walkout by 1,000 workers at the giant Smithfield hog slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, North Carolina. The bosses and their representatives in government are alarmed at the example set by these meat packers who took action to protest the firing of dozens of coworkers targeted by “Social Security no-match” letters, pushing back company efforts to dismiss them.

Despite attempts at intimidation, the most recent police raids have also been met with workers' protests.

These examples of growing confidence and willingness to struggle are another indication of how the massive wave of immigration in recent decades has irreversibly strengthened the working class in the United States. This strength was displayed in a dramatic way in April and May, when some 2 million workers took to the streets—in many cases shutting down plants and mills such as the Swift packinghouses—to demand the legalization of all undocumented immigrants.

The aim of the raids is not to “enforce the law” but to intimidate working people from pressing the demand for legalization and from standing up proudly to say: “We are workers, not criminals!”

Foreign-born workers are not the ones “victimizing” the native-born. The bosses and their government are victimizing all working people. The employers are the ones responsible for cutting wages and benefits, for unsafe conditions and layoffs. The only effective response to the capitalists’ divide-and-rule tactics is unionizing all workers and mobilizing union power to resist these attacks.

Following the example of the meat packers in North Carolina, the unions and other working people need to mobilize to demand: Release the arrested workers—no deportations or firings! End the use of “no-match” letters! Amnesty now! Unconditional and immediate legalization of all immigrants!
Related articles:
Immigration agents raid packing plants
‘We are not criminals!’ say workers at Swift factories; ‘No deportations!’
N. Carolina meat packers fight company attempts to fire dozens  
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