Friday, May 23, 2008

Workplace Enforcement's Silent Victims

Lynn Woolsey Chairwoman of the "Workforce Protection Subcommittee Committee on House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections" [I am not making that up...if it's a typo, that's what was there and I cut and pasted the title] testified before Congress on May 20, 2008.   The subject: what enforcement is doing to the children of illegal migrants.  I will just leave you some of the most important excerpts from her presentation (the BOLD HIGHLIGHTS are my addition, btw):


"Today, we will explore the effects of the ICE raids on the children of immigrant parents. Before 2006, the
Bush Administration`s record on enforcement was not very good...But by 2006, ICE had increased its enforcement activities and made about 4,400 worksite arrests, more than triple than the year before...In December, 2006, ICE launched ``Operation Wagon Train`` the largest worksite operation in history.  More than 1,000 ICE agents arrested about 1,300 people at 6 Swift & Co.meat processing plants located around the country. Also in 2006, ICE launched a nationwide operation called ``Operation Return to Sender,`` which resulted in the 23,000 arrests at worksites and other locations, including people`s homes..."


"In 2007 and now in 2008, worksite raids and raids at other locations have continued at a steady pace. Between October 2006 and January 2007 ICE raids in California resulted in the arrest of over 800 undocumented immigrants. In March of 2007, ICE conducted raids in San Rafael and Novato, cities in my district. And just last week, ICE conducted its biggest workplace raid this year at a meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa. Of the 800-900 workers at the plant, over 300 were arrested. Twelve of those arrested
were children between the ages of 15 and 17
. They were working at the plant in violation of child labor laws. As of last Thursday, they were still being detained. And we now know that ICE conducted this raid even as the Department of Labor and Iowa state officials were investigating the owner of the plant for child labor violations...


"We are very concerned that the raid will have the effect of derailing the investigation. But today, we are looking at the impact of the raids on the children. There are about 4.7 million children with who have at least at least one parent who is undocumented. Of that number 3.1 million, or ---2/3 of these children----are U.S. citizens. While we do not know the exact number of children who have
had a parent arrested or deported, we know that thousands of children have been affected and that most of them are U.S. citizens themselves. There will also be testimony today about the ICE guidelines, which were put into place in November 2007 and which outline humanitarian concerns officials should follow when conducting raids, are not being followed in a consistent fashion. These guidelines are discretionary, and so ICE officials most likely have no real incentive to follow them. As a result, we are still hearing heartbreaking stories of the impact on children. They have witnessed their parents being arrested. And they have had flashlights shown in their faces late at night. With their families, they have hidden in their houses, basements, closets and some even under their beds, afraid that their parents and other family members will be taken. They have been separated from their families in the cruelest of ways for long periods of time and many of their parents have been deported. Some have been absent from school for day sat a time, and children, especially young children are experiencing depression, separation anxiety, and in some serious cases, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)...


Unless ICE follows humanitarian procedures in conducting these raids, we are still left with traumatized children and communities..."



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