Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What color is your bracelet?

This blog asks "can it happen here?" For some people in the United States, it happened yesterday. Some arrests have devastating consequences.

U.S. immigration authorities trumpeted news of raids that snatched up several thousand immigrant workers yesterday. A credulous New York Times headlined the story " U.S. Chases Identity Theft in Biggest Work Raid Ever." Yeah, and I've got a great bridge I'd love to sell you in Brooklyn.

In Hyrum, Utah, immigration agents knew exactly who the "lawbreakers" were. As reported by the Salt Lake City Tribune

If only for a few minutes, Maria felt like an ''illegal alien'' in her homeland - the United States of America.

She thought she was going on break from her job at the Swift & Co. meat processing plant here on Tuesday, but instead she and others were forced to stand in a line by U.S. immigration agents. Non-Latinos and people with lighter skin were plucked out of line and given blue bracelets.

The rest, mostly Latinos with brown skin, waited until they were ''cleared'' or arrested by ''la migra,'' the popular name in Spanish for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), employees said.

''I was in the line because of the color of my skin,'' she said, her voice shaking.

In Marshalltown, Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register, many of the dangerous criminals apprehended were parents of small children.

Federal immigration agents arrested scores of workers Tuesday at Swift & Co. packing plants in Marshalltown and five other facilities in the country.

The raids disrupted operations at one of the nation's largest meatpackers and divided families in Marshalltown.

"There are many children who came home and didn't have any parents. How will they get along?" asked Marcelo Merida, a meatcutter at Swift whose wife was among those placed on buses and driven to unknown locations. ....

Workers at Marshalltown described the scene Tuesday morning as chaotic. Later, outside the plant, Alisa Rodriguez-Cardenas showed a bruise she said she received when she was hit on the shoulder by a female agent.

"The woman from ICE was yelling. She was very mad," said Rodriguez-Cardenas, who has worked at the plant since 2002.

"I said, 'Don't yell at us,' and she said, 'Be quiet,' and started to hit us, me and two others."

Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) which represented some of the workers described the raids.

"Stormtroopers came in with machine guns, rounded [the workers] into the cafeterias, separated identified citizens from non-citizens, and then they took away all green cards and put non-citizens onto buses..."

Do we wait til they come for middle class, native-born, white people to protest?

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