Friday, April 18, 2008

Raids denounced as immoral, double standard, threat to society

Arrests in Chattanooga, some detained in Nashville

"We will pray for these women and their families"

"Not one good old anglo saxon name amongst them"

In the aftermath of recent, nationwide immigration raids that netted 300 arrests, some of which occurred in Chattanooga, with some of the arrestees being sent to Nashville for holding pending deportation, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) issued the following press release denouncing the practice. TIRRC Policy Director Stephen Fotopulos (and others) also condemned local immigration enforcement as too broad in this recent editorial.

The text of the press release is here:
Yesterday, while Pope Benedict XVI asked President George W. Bush for the humane treatment of immigrants in the United States, ICE raided Pilgrims Pride Chicken Plants across the nation. At the time when President Bush spoke about freedom in a ‘spirit of mutual respect,’ over one hundred and fifty immigrant workers were rounded up and subjected to detention and interrogation at the Pilgrims Pride chicken plant in Chattanooga. The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition denounces yesterday’s harsh raids and calls on ICE and President Bush to treat all people with dignity and respect.

"Rounding up hardworking parents and spouses and imprisoning them does not make this country stronger. Rather, it shatters families and sows fear, trauma and isolation, weakening the moral and social fabric of our society," said David Lubell, Director of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). “Let’s stop tearing families apart. Let’s be compassionate and stop this tragedy of separating parents from their children, and wives from their husbands. Instead, let’s have our federal government fix the broken immigration system” said Mr. Lubell.

Although hundreds of workers were rounded up at Pilgrim’s Pride yesterday, it should be noted that no one at the managerial or executive levels of the company were detained or even charged. In response to this disturbing double standard, Megan Macaraeg with Jobs with Justice had this to say: “Investigating unscrupulous hiring practices is one thing, but we don’t need to be punishing the workers for trying to support their families. All workers and their families deserve being treated with dignity,” Macaraeg said. “The workers who are detained are victims of the employers and the broken immigration system. It is the federal immigration system that needs to be held accountable. The workers need their rights protected, and the children need their parents back,” said Macaraeg.

Many in the Nashville community see the recent raids as morally reprehensible, and the wrong approach to addressing the immigration issue. “The raids in the poultry processing plants in the southeast are disheartening and immoral,” said Rev. Jeannie Hunter, Associate Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church. “Even worse is the breaking up of families, mothers from their children, which is happening as a result. Christians should urge lawmakers to return children to their parents. We will pray for these women and their families,” said Rev. Hunter.
Local blogger Aunt B. recently lamented here the view expressed by Mack that American factories losing workers will lead to American suffering, and that
it’s going to take this suffering and more to get people to change their minds–that it’s going to take folks losing their nurseries or not having anyone to help them clean up after a tornado or businesses leaving or refusing to come here in order to get people to realize that, in their efforts to hurt others, they’re also hurting themselves.
It's similar to sentiment I expressed here in 2006 (with a favorable review by Kleinheider):
A thought for the executive branch in Tennessee and D.C.: enforce the laws to the letter until we Americans feel how harsh our immigration system is. As commentator Sean Brainsted said in a different context here, "The more that rich and powerful people are held accountable to the same laws that poorer people are, the more likely we are to get rid of ridiculous laws."
There are two categories of victims of current U.S. immigration policy. My comments and Mack's comments address what would happen when the people writing the laws feel the pain of full enforcement of those laws. Currently, the suffering of those subjected to the laws but not able to directly influence them is much more prevalent. It's only a matter of time before the misery strategy moves the Doomsday Clock to the time when we wake up and see how awful we have become.

If we are willing to listen, however, we can be inspired to change our laws without such suffering. From USA Today:
"The pope can't change the laws of our country," [Bishop Thomas] Wenski says. "Hopefully he will touch the hearts of many people in our country."
Judging by one of the comments following the editorial authored by Fotopulos, Renata Soto, Elliott Ozment, Gregg Ramos, Rick Casares and Salvador Guzman, however, we need some divine intervention:
Look at those names of contributors to the article. Not one good old anglo saxon name amongst them.
Photo by Ian Broyles. Licensed under Creative Commons.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what counts as a "good old anglo saxon name" considering that the Angles and the Saxons didn't really have last names.


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