Actions across U.S. support immigrant workers

By LeiLani Dowell

NYC FIST

Immigrant rights groups throughout the country took the occasion of Indigenous Peoples Day, Oct. 12, to protest the government’s severe raids, roundups and detentions of immigrant workers. This repression has increased since the first huge outpourings of immigrants in 2006; however, activists and community members refuse to be silent in the face of these attacks.

Detroit
Detroit
WW photo: Alan Pollock

The following is just a sampling of the activities that took place:

In rural Lumpkin, Georgia, more than 30 people from Alterna, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, International Action Center and other groups staged a mass detainee visitation to the Stewart Detention Center. The detention center holds more than 1,700 immigrant workers who have been caught in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids at workplaces or stopped while driving by local police forces for alleged traffic violations.

Some detainees had not received any visits from family or friends; very few had legal help; none had any knowledge of how much longer they would be there. Very few of the staff and guards are bilingual, and books and other reading materials are not available.

San Francisco
San Francisco
WW photo: Judy Greenspan

A common issue mentioned by each detainee was the lack of medical care. An untreated eye infection has left one man with only 20-percent vision; an HIV-positive man isn’t receiving his complete drug regimen and another is being given only 50 percent of the prescribed dosage.

Messages to family members were gathered and pleas for legal and medical help recorded. The organizations are projecting a broader program of detainee visits to monitor ICE facilities around the state.

In San Francisco, more than 150 immigrant rights activists rallied outside a busy Bay Area Rapid Transit station in the Mission district. Speaker after speaker demanded an end to the ICE raids in the Bay Area and around the country.

In September alone, more than 1,100 people in California were arrested for the “crime” of being undocumented, as ICE raids terrorized many immigrant communities.

Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y.
Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y.
WW photo: Heather Cottin

Rodrigo Ibarra from El Organizador stated, “We pledge today to continue to fight the repression that resulted in over 300,000 of our brothers and sisters being deported over the past year.”

Evangelina, a Latina worker who was arrested during ICE raids at El Balazo restaurants, called upon the community to unite to stop all deportations.

Local endorsers included Teatro Jornalero, Movement for Unconditional Amnesty, Manos Unidas Community Center and Workers World Party.

Sodus, N.Y.
Sodus, N.Y.
WW photo: Leslie Feinberg

A march and rally was also held in southwest Detroit. March organizers noted: “‘Día de La Raza’ is a symbolic date that remind us of the European invasion and colonization of America. Ironically today … these immigrant workers were forced out of their home countries by the neoliberal economic policies of globalization and free trade agreements … imposed on Latin America by the U.S. and European governments and multinational corporations.”

About 50 people gathered from the May 1 Coalition and other groups in Queens, N.Y. Speakers from Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Texas spoke in English, Spanish and Que’chua.

The immigration rights activists rallied at Wells Fargo bank, which in Phoenix is the headquarters for fascist Sheriff Joe Arapaio. Arapaio maintains Arizona’s Maricopa County like a police state against Latin@s and has deputized Minutemen. Wells Fargo also leads in subprime foreclosures in Baltimore, Cleveland and the entire state of Wisconsin, which have preyed on mainly Black and Latin@ families.

Speakers denounced war, the bank bailouts and the plunder of the Indigenous people that began with Columbus and continues to this day.

In tiny Sodus, N.Y., a multinational crowd of more than 40 people gathered to protest the increasing ICE terror in the area.

On Sept. 28, ICE raided a trailer camp housing workers, deporting many. Yolanda Villa of the Rochester Alliance for Immigrant Rights, organizer of the rally, said, “People can’t go to church, can’t go shopping, can’t go to the laundry, without getting picked up.” Signs demanded amnesty, civil rights, and justice for the workers, and said, “Support our neighbors.”

Other actions were held around the country, including in Boston; Chicago; Madison, Wisc.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Rochester, N.Y.

Heather Cottin, Judy Greenspan, Kris Hamel, Dianne Mathiowetz and Minnie Bruce Pratt contributed to this article.

E-mail: leilani@fistyouth.org

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