Stop raids on immigrant workers

The following is a statement issued by the Communist Party USA on March 13.

On March 6, the Bush administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, carried out a brutal immigration raid on Michael Bianco, Inc., in New Bedford, Mass., arresting 350 workers. The company received nearly a million dollars in military contracts to produce backpacks being used by soldiers in Iraq. The raid caused a humanitarian crisis in southwestern Massachusetts with hundreds of small children, some of them U.S. citizens, stranded at day care and school with no idea where their parents were.

Similar raids have been carried out in the last weeks at the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, N.C.; at Swift plants in Colorado, Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma; and in California, Indiana, Arizona, Illinois, Connecticut and elsewhere. The raids at Smithfield and Swift had a strong “union busting” element in the raids.

The raids expose the lie of Bush’s hypocritical statement that “family values do not end at the Rio Grande.”

Such vicious raids have escalated following massive demonstrations for immigrant rights across the country last spring. The increase in raids this month is timed to come as the debate on immigration begins in Congress, to serve as a many-tailed whip to force through new and expanded guest worker programs. In the guise of reforms, guest worker programs will establish a separate system of second-class workers with unequal rights.

These Bush anti-immigrant initiatives are also used to divert and divide the growing movement for a new direction in the country.

The long-term solution to the immigration issue includes an end to trade and economic policies that enrich corporations while impoverishing workers and small farmers of other countries. As well it includes the establishment of equal rights for immigrant workers to end the special exploitation of these vulnerable workers.

A united response led by the labor movement and involving civil rights, women, youth, religious, environment and civic organizations is needed to stop government policies that hurt workers of all nationalities in our country. Demands for decent wages and working conditions and the right to organize will improve living standards for all workers.

We join with elected officials, unions, church groups and others who have spoken out to call for immediate action:

• Arrested immigrants from New Bedford, Mass., and all other raid locations must be released and reunited with their families immediately.

• There must be an immediate moratorium on all immigration raids, arrests, deportations and use of Social Security “no-match” letters for immigration enforcement.

• Congress must pass, and the president must sign, legislation which does the following:

1. Legalize undocumented immigrants in the United States as quickly and easily as possible.

2. Increase the number of permanent resident visas instead of proliferating and expanding guest worker programs for immigrant workers of the future.

3. Uphold family unity by preventing the deportation of hard-working parents of minor children. Rep. Jose Serrano’s Child Citizen Protection Act (HR 1176) is a start in this direction.

4. Repeal employer sanctions that are used to hurt workers. Instead, strengthen and enforce labor law to guarantee that just wage and working conditions are met. Require all government contracts to include standards for wages and working conditions.

5. Repeal legislation that restricts immigrants’ legal rights and access to public services paid for by their tax dollars.

6. Stop Bush administration barriers to expeditious due process for permanent residency and citizenship.

7. Stop violence and cruelty against border crossers by the Border Patrol and private vigilantes. End militarization of the border.

8. Pass the Employee Free Choice Act to allow all workers to organize into unions without harassment and intimidation.