They cant deport us all!
Ohio workers protest immigration sweep
More than 300 people marched and rallied May 21 in Painesville, Ohio, to protest the arrests of 24 people in a sweep by immigration cops the previous weekend. Similar raids took place in at least three other statesColorado, Georgia, and Missouri.
BY MAURA DE LUCA
PAINESVILLE, Ohio, May 27Agents of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided working-class neighborhoods and factories in at least three states last week, provoking protests by immigrant workers and their supporters.
More than 300 people marched from St. Marys Catholic Church here May 21 to protest the arrest of 24 people during a sweep by immigration cops the previous weekend.
Holding banners reading, They cant deport us all, and We come to work and feed our children, the protesters marched to City Hall. There, relatives of those arrested described abuses by immigration cops and denounced the raids. Some passing motorists honked in support, while others made anti-immigrant comments, reported the Associated Press.
When word got out about the raid dozens of immigrant workers and their families packed St. Marys basement in response.
ICE spokespeople said the raid was targeted enforcement aimed at individuals with immigration violations and criminal records.
Veronica Dahlberg, director of Hispanas Organizadas de Lake y Ashtabula, said they didnt just target people with deportation orders.
They are taking innocent people, a 27-year-old airplane parts worker in Mentor, Ohio, told the Militant May 27. He asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by the labor contractor he works for.
Pointing to the lawsuit leather workers in New Bedford, Massachusetts, recently filed against Michael Bianco Inc. for robbing them of overtime pay (see last weeks issue), he said, They do the same thing where we work. There are about 500 workers at two plants, working 13-hour days six or seven days a week, and if you try to leave early, they say you can but well fire you. The boss fired about 50 employees who didnt come to work May 21, the day after the Painesville raid, he added.
An estimated 8,000-10,000 immigrants, the majority from Mexico, live in Lake and Ashtabula counties. Most of them work in nurseries in eastern Lake County, where Painesville is located.
People just come here to work, then all they do is work, said Sara Sánchez, 65. You go in very early and get home at 9 p.m. and youre so tired.
Teresa Sandoval, 44, a plastics factory worker, expressed a similar view speaking to the Militant outside a store here. She said she agreed with a woman she saw interviewed on TV who said something like, Back in Mexico they say this is the country of dreams. Yes, it is. But we work so much, were always dreaming.
A number of workers interviewed also expressed opposition to the immigration bill recently introduced in the Senate. Where will people get the $5,000? asked Sánchez, referring to the fee immigrants seeking legal status would have to pay under this bill. Were poor. We need a solution without having to pay that. I have papers, but I still think legalization is important to fight for. There are many people suffering and many people not going to work out of fear.
In Butterfield, Missouri, ICE and Social Security Administration agents raided a poultry plant owned by Georges Processing Inc. May 22. They arrested 136 workers who were supposedly undocumented. At least one person was charged with Social Security fraud, and another with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen to obtain employment, an ICE press release said.
Meanwhile, a vigil was held May 26 in Pueblo, Colorado, to protest the arrests of 20-25 people there by ICE last week.
Róger Calero contributed to this article.
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