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December 22, 2006

NATIONAL LATINO ORGANIZATIONS EXPRESS CONCERN ABOUT RECENT IMMIGRATION RAIDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Dec 21, 2006
Contact: Diana Tejada or Flavia Jiménez at(202) 785-1670

Washington, DC - Four of the leading national Hispanic advocacy organizations in the United States - the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) - this week released the text of a letter to President Bush expressing their concern following the raids earlier this month at Swift & Company plants.

The text of the letter follows:

December 20, 2006

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our deepest concern and alarm over the recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials at Swift & Company plants. It has been reported that more than 1,200 individuals have been taken into ICE custody and detained at facilities throughout the country, and some have been removed from the U.S. These raids have separated families, closed factories, and slowed the economies of entire regions. Yet the raids have not significantly reduced the size of the undocumented immigrant population, and have not rooted out unscrupulous employers who hire and exploit immigrant workers. Surely this is not a convincing way to resolve our country s real immigration problems.

While we respect your authority to enforce immigration laws, as Latino organizations we have serious concerns about the manner in which these most recent raids were conducted. Various news reports and accounts from members of the community have claimed that racial profiling was used to single out workers for questioning; furthermore, we have reports that lawful permanent residents were detained. Furthermore, we understand that authorities prevented family members, clergy, and legal representatives from communicating with those detained, including in situations which could affect the health and safety of their family members. We are especially concerned for the children of those detained. In the short term, the children must be housed, fed, and clothed. In the long term, these children face the reality of a future separated from their parents, or living in a foreign country that is not their own. This is simply an unacceptable outcome, destructive to the lives of individual families and entire communities in several states. In all cases, government agencies must respect the due process rights of all individuals, and ICE must take into account the welfare of the children, elderly relatives, or other dependents of those detained.

Perhaps the greatest irony of the Swift raids is that Swift was attempting to obey the law faithfully. As a participant in the Basic Pilot program, Swift was required to verify the documents of each of its employees. ICE has proven that the Basic Pilot is not effective in cases of identity theft or document fraud, and even employers who abide by the rules are likely to lose their workforce and struggle to replace it with authorized workers. In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the current enforcement strategy is simply inadequate.

Ultimately, these raids were carried out in the service of an immigration system which the country believes and your Administration agrees is broken. The Swift raids provide additional evidence that Congress and the Administration must work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. But as that debate unfolds, it seems especially cruel to invest enforcement resources in a strategy which maximizes the human cost of our broken system, while doing nothing to correct the sources of the problem.

We urge you in the strongest possible terms to rethink your immigration enforcement strategy and invest in tactics which maximize effectiveness while minimizing harm to families and communities.

Sincerely,

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)

cc: Michael Chertoff, DHS

All Content © 2006 NCLR. All Rights Reserved

Posted by VisaLawyer at December 22, 2006 01:44 PM

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