BOSTON – A recently formed national commission examining raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents held its second regional hearing today in the Massachusetts State House. The hearing focused on the local impact of workplace and community immigration raids in Massachusetts and Connecticut and examined how the execution of the raids is part of a wider pattern of ICE misconduct occurring across the country. The commission also heard testimony about anti-immigration measures in Rhode Island.
“”The testimony today provided compelling and often heartbreaking evidence of the widespread devastation that immigration raids have inflicted on workers, their families, communities and local economies,”” said Joseph T. Hansen, founding chairman of the National Commission and United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union president. “”The fact that so many of the emotional and economic wounds inflicted by ICE agents remain so raw, and the fact that so many questions remain unanswered long after the raids, makes ensuring accountability for these questionable actions by a government agency that much more important.””
The head of ICE, Julie L. Myers, was invited to testify, but declined to appear before the commission.
The hearing in Boston is part of a series of regional public meetings that the commission is holding to explore the execution, implications and ramifications of workplace immigration enforcement on local communities. The commission will also look into claims that ICE has engaged in violations of the 4th amendment. After a thorough investigation, the commission will produce a public report that highlights its findings and makes recommendations about how the system should be reformed.
“”As our commission travels the country and talks to more and more workers and experts, we are seeing troubling and repeated patterns of misconduct emerging,”” Hansen added. “”This commission will continue to aggressively pursue the facts and will ensure that they get a full and complete public airing. “”
The commission was created in response to a raid that took place at meatpacking plants in America’s heartland two years ago. On December 12, 2006, thousands of innocent workers were detained at meatpacking plants in six states during workplace raids carried out by federal ICE agents. The UFCW represents workers at five of the plants, including Worthington, Minn.; Greeley, Colo.; Cactus, Tex.; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Grand Island, Neb.
On September 12, 2007, the UFCW filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to protect the 4th amendment rights of all Americans and enjoin the government from illegally arresting and detaining workers, including U.S. citizens and legal residents, while at their workplace.
A broad group of leading policy experts serves on the commission, including former Governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack. The commission held its first hearing in Washington, D.C. on February 25, 2008. Future hearings are scheduled in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 29, 2008 and in Atlanta, Ga., on May 29, 2008.
Civilian-driven commissions have played an important role in U.S. history. When African-Americans were arrested, beaten and killed during the civil rights movement, the tragedies fueled the McCone Commission in 1965 and the National Advisory Commission in 1968.
When Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians was established to investigate these unacceptable civil rights violations.
Citizen review panels are often created to help renew a commitment to rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, especially when those rights are violated by local police brutality.
Visit www.icemisconduct.org for more information.