Homeland Security and local police in 26 States have stepped up raids and deportations in the recent weeks.
What is being called the largest raid on immigrant workers began on the morning of April 20th. Nearly 1200 workers were removed from their workplace and arrested for failing to provide legal documents. A total of 275 were deported back to Mexico so far, with the rest currently under investigation.
The international German-based corporation, IFCO Systems North America, was among the targeted companies. Agents armed and dressed in bulletproof vests invaded a total of 40 suspected factories early that morning in effort to catch the workers offguard.
The agents then rounded up the workers and loaded some into buses while others were put in vans for later questioning.
Managers were not exempt to the raid. A total of 7 company managers are also facing serious charges relating to immigration.
Among the States listed for the incursion were Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York (mainly upstate), North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
Many see this roundup and deportation as the Bush Administration’s way of squelching the ever-growing protests against U.S. immigration policies, while others believe it is the government’s way of warning those who plan to attend May 1st’s National Day of Action protests.
In recent weeks over a million people, spanning over 100 cities and towns across America, have demonstrated against upcoming policies that affect immigrants.
The protests mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which led to the detention of thousands of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. Also during that process, 3,200 resident aliens of Italian background and more than 11,000 German residents, including several who were naturalised residents, were arrested while some were interned.
"President Bush who stood by quietly as Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist gave in to extremist anti-immigrant Republicans and stood in the way of the reform Americans needed," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) said.
On May 1st, the "El Gran Paro Americano 2006" (The Great American Boycott 2006), "Un dia sin immigrante" (A day without an immigrant) many did not attend school, go to work, not to buy or sell anything, and to show solidarity they wore a white t-shirt or white band arm bands.
It is said that neo-liberal economic policies, like NAFTA and CAFTA, have pushed millions of people into abject poverty – forcing immigrants to seek out work in the U.S.
Over 11 million undocumented men, women, and children are currently residing and working in America. If the U.S. enforces new immigration laws, agriculture in particular will collapse without the immigrant-based work-force to sustain it. Immigrants earn an estimated 240 billion dollars annually and contribute 7 billion dollars to Social Security per year.
Their assistance was and is invaluable. Immigrants assisted in the clean-up effort after 9/11, and are still helping those in New Orleans recover from the aftermath of Hurricane
The upcoming rallies hope to put a stop to HR 4437, establish a temporary guest worker programme and provide immigrants with a path to citizenship.
Homeland Security hopes to increase immigration enforcement and border security by reinforcing the fence along 698 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border and will make illegal entry a felony and penalise anyone who aids undocumented workers.
By not allowing immigrants the same rights as citizens, they may fall prey to abuse in the workplace.