The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 71/No. 26      July 2, 2007

Protesters condemn ‘la migra’ raid in Oregon
(front page)
PORTLAND, Oregon, June 16—About 160 Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Fresh Del Monte Produce plant here four days ago and arrested 167 workers. La migra also raided two offices of American Staffing Resources, the temporary agency that hires workers for Fresh Del Monte.

Some 70 people protested against the raid today outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, where the arrested workers are detained.

Facing off 10 members of the Minutemen, a rightist vigilante group that opposes legalization of undocumented immigrants, protesters chanted, “Stop the raids! Stop the deportations!” and “íSí, se puede!” (Yes, we can.)

Militant reporters visited the plant here this weekend and talked to workers, as well as to people in nearby neighborhoods.

Normally, about 600 people work at the plant in two shifts, but it looked like only about 50 workers were there today. One worker said the company eliminated the second shift after the raid.

The arrested workers had been making $7.80 per hour, Oregon’s minimum wage.

Relatives and friends of those arrested were coming and going into the plant to retrieve personal belongings and cars left at the plant parking lot after the arrests. A number of workers leaving said they had just started that week as temporary employees.

Workers in several cars gave thumbs up when they saw the signs Militant supporters carried, which read, “Stop the raids; legalization now!” But the reaction at the plant gate was polarized. A truck driver, for example, responded differently to the same sign. “I think all the illegals should be deported,” he said. “They just take our jobs.”

Near the plant reactions from residents were also mixed.

“My brother-in-law was arrested and he doesn’t even work at the plant,” said Ida Monroy. “He was there talking to one of the workers when the raid took place. He’s been here over 20 years and has three children. I’m helping take care of them.”

“I’ll go,” Monroy said when she heard a protest action may take place here next weekend.

Glen Daniel, a retired worker who is Black, said some of his neighbors had not been home since the raid. “I don’t think it’s right, what they did to those people,” he said. “They’re trying to help themselves, working like dogs to help their families.”

A worker at a local Mexican food store, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of persecution by the government, said his aunt was picked up at the plant. They let her go because she is a single parent with three children, he said. They put a tracking bracelet on her ankle pending a hearing on her status.

Guadeloupe, who didn’t want her last name used for similar reasons, said her husband had been picked up earlier in the year at another plant. She had to pay a $3,500 bond to get him released pending an immigration hearing in November. She said lawyers are not willing to take the case because it is “unwinable,” except for one attorney who wants $5,000 up-front with no guarantees.

An immigrant from Panama, however, who also asked to remain anonymous, said she agreed with the raids. “I saved money for me and my sister to come to this country,” she said. “People should do it the right way to get here legally.”

Last August, Del Monte had been forced to pay out $400,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by eight former workers employed by another temporary agency, Quality Manual Labor Inc. The workers sued both companies for violating state law by firing them for raising safety concerns, withholding overtime pay, and doing away with break periods. Del Monte then replaced this agency with American Staffing Resources before the settlement. At the Tacoma protest today, relatives and friends of those detained joined demonstrators after visiting time ended. Most of the protesters were young. They included students and members of Hate Free Zone, Washington Community Action Network, and Sin Fronteras, a Portland-based group.

The rightist Minutemen withdrew before the protest ended.

Carmen Maymi-O’Reilly and Cecelia Moriarity contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Day laborers in N.Y. town win hiring hall in Black church
Three Iowa Swift workers get jail terms, face deportation
Connecticut rally demands halt to ‘la migra’ raids
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home