Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Race Is Not Always To The Swift: La Migra Raids Packing Plants UPDATE

In an article published today in the Greeley Tribune we're starting to get a clearer picture of what went on yesterday. Greeley, Colorado is the home of one of the larger Swift meatpacking plants where the aptly named ICE rounded up 261 packing house workers. It is said by authorities that at least 10 people in the roundup were detained on identity theft warrants, and the balance were held on immigration violations.

In addition, we now know where at least some of the detainees are being held-Camp Dodge, Iowa.

I have problems with a lot of this stuff.

Yeah, I don't like illegal immigration, but I like cheap beef and bacon on my table. I also don't like seeing the government beat up on working folks. I don't like seeing the government depriving kids of their hard working parents and throwing families to the four winds and acting as if they're protecting the rest of us from terrorism.

It's taking on all the hallmarks of a pogrom. There. I said it.

Whatever their status, the illegal immigrants who work for Swift, almost exclusively hispanics, provide a valuable service and are in the main, working stiffs with families and kids here in the states and down below the border who depend on that paycheck for a modest existence. We're targeting people who may be technically guilty of some statutory offense, but are morally and ethically blameless for trying to make a better life for their families.

They may have crashed the party, but in the main they've got sweat equity and have earned their place at the table.

There's a qualitative difference between these folks and those who seek to do this country great harm by slipping under the radar screen.

And I'm willing to bet my last Confederate dollar that there are a fair number of folks serving proudly in our military, standing up for this country, whose parents came here illegally from Mexico.

For all those who are busily getting all self righteous, what the hell would you do if you were from Mexico? You'd do what you had to to feed your family and worry about the long term consequences later.

That's what people do who love their families.

Here's a note from one of our correspondents. It sums up my feelings about the entire subject pretty neatly.

Thank heavens for men like Mr. Chertoff who stand up for these poor victims (of identity theft, that included a murderer serving life in prison and a dead guy). But if specific victims are not enough, remember 911: “Chertoff called the trafficking of false and stolen documents a serious national security issue because terrorists can use such phony papers to try to get on airplanes.”

Why didn’t I realize these poor schmucks bustin their butts in our nation’s packing plants might actually be aiding the 911 terrorists? How did I miss that connection? Again thank heavens for Mr. Chertoff.

There are three people who don't know that ICE, the less kind and less gentle version of La Migra raided a number of packing plants operated by the Swift folks yesterday in a flying razee that the old time Tuaregs would have approved of. One of those plants happened to be in Marshalltown, Iowa. The folks who did not hear about it are probably on a dogsled somewhere north of Thule where the radio waves don't go.

The more important question is what it means for the people who are involved.

It is alleged by La Migra that a significant number of the detainees have been using purloined social security identification information that was lifted from other folks, are undocumented, facing criminal charges or otherwise have paperwork problems.

What's unknown is if ICE simply grabbed everyone in sight whose name ended in -ez, or had some idea of who it was they needed to interview and for what reason. A cloak of secrecy uhas descended as ICE is not disclosing where the detainees have been moved to.

There's reason to believe that a fair number of people who are legal residents in the US have been swept up because they weren't carrying their documents, according to Jim Benzoni, an immigration law practicioner in Des Moines. This is understandable. If I had a document that was the most important piece of paper in my life, it would be in a safe place like a safety deposit box and not in my pants pocket while I was working in a slaughterhouse.

For producers who have delivery commitments, problems are going to be experienced as long as Swift is unable to acommodate them because of lower staffing levels.


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