Federal immigration agents raided a New Bedford leather manufacturer Tuesday March 7th in full military style (including helicopters). At least 340 workers were detained from the Michael Bianco Inc. factory. The factory employs mostly women and mostly immigrants from Guatemala and El Salvador. Early reports show the raid destroyed hundreds of families and left dozens upon dozens of babies and young children without a home. Over 100 children were directly affected. Some of the detainees were already flown out to detention centers in other states, including Texas. Federal officials are calling Tuesday's attack the largest INS raid in recent history. The governor of MA even called it a humanitarian crisis.
Somewhat coincidentally, the raid led to the arrest of a handful of unscrupulous employers - (who did things like fine workers for spending more than 2 minutes in the bathroom). Although these employwers were charged with employing undocumented workers, none were charged for any of their labor law violations. It is the working class community of New Bedford who is criminalized and attacked while the Federal government claims it is acting to protect labor.
What happens in New Bedford could affect what is going to happen across the nation in the future. By having such a large raid in a "blue state" and pro-immigrant community, ICE (the new name for the INS) is testing the waters. We need to demonstrate a public outcry against such raids to keep them from happening again and again.
Please make phone calls, write letters to the editors, hold rallies at the local INS. New Bedford is a community in crisis right now. Show them the solidarity that you hope would be shown to Portland in similar circumstances. Please spread the word.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1) Monetary Donations Are Needed:
MIRA is collecting money in a separate account to be distributed to community organizations responding in the affected areas. All donations through this account will be distributed to the affected New Bedford families.
To Donate On-Line: [ https://www.communityroom.net/donate.asp?id=331] Choose "MIRA" as the recipient, then specify that the funds are for "New Bedford Immigrant Families / Ninos Fund." Or send a check to the MIRA Coalition, 105 Chauncy St , Boston , MA 02111 . Please specify in the memo line that the funds are for "New Bedford Immigrant Families / Ninos Fund." Donations are tax-deductible and all donations marked "New Bedford Immigrant Families / Ninos Fund" will be distributed to the affected families through the appropriate local community and service organizations.
2) Call Your Congressmen: Ask them to speak directly with Secretary Chertoff to request that he "Release the Moms." Demand a moratorium on deportations until reform has passed.
Photos of the Raid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxnHGeENkmE