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Vol. 71/No. 27      July 9, 2007

(front page)
Oregon: 500 protest ‘la migra’ raid
Militant/Mary Martin
María Delgado, a worker arrested by immigration cops in the Del Monte Fresh Produce plant raid, speaks at June 24 rally in Portland, Oregon. She shows electronic bracelet ICE placed on her ankle to track her as she awaits her deportation hearing.

PORTLAND, Oregon, June 24—Close to 500 people assembled today outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters here to protest a June 12 raid at the Del Monte Fresh Produce plant. From the ICE headquarters, they marched through downtown Portland for a rally at Pioneer Park, chanting “Si se puede” and “Stop the raids and deportations.”

The June 12 raid targeted the fruit and vegetable processing plant and a temporary agency that hires its workers. In all, 167 workers were arrested.

“We came here to work, not to rob anybody,” said María Delgado, who was recently released after being arrested in the Del Monte raid. She displayed the ankle bracelet she is required to wear. “I have to go to the ICE headquarters three times a week, but I am not allowed to work, so we have no money.” She said that churches raised money to help with immediate expenses for some of the affected families, including hers, but after July 1 she doesn’t know how they will pay rent.

“Teachers began to notice that students were getting text messages and crying. A number did not come back to school all that week and missed their eighth grade dance and graduation,” Carolina Gonzalez, a teacher at the George Middle School in Portland, told the rally. “This is real terror and it needs to stop.”

The Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition (PIRC), which organized the protest, announced they will sponsor a rally at the ICE Building at 4:30 p.m. on the day of any future raids.

Speakers at the rally represented a variety of organizations. Rev. William Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, said that 5,000 delegates at a Unitarian conference in Portland were voting on a resolution calling for a moratorium on raids.

Claire Oliveros, of the Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, said that 60,000 people emigrate from the Philippines to the United States every year. Two Filipino women were among those arrested at Del Monte, she added.

A number of students were part of the demonstration. “We’re all immigrants in this country,” said Somerset Fetter, a college student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. “The U.S. has done more harm around the world than any of these immigrant workers who are just trying to feed their families.”

“I am going to the Social Forum in Atlanta and I thought it was important to link up with other organizations active in the struggle,” said Jami Williams, a student at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia. Williams said she belongs to a club there called Building Revolution By Increasing Community Knowledge (BRICK). “I wanted to come to Portland to show solidarity with the Del Monte workers and their families and to demand an end to the raids and deportations.”

In a related event, immigrant rights activists and day laborers rallied in Portland on June 25 to demand immigration reform and for the rights of the laborers to wait for work without harassment.
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