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On Tuesday December 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted "Operation Wagon Train" an immigration raid that shut down six Swift Meatpacking facilities in six different states.  If you want to get a good perspective on how these heavy handed raids affect communities there is a great set of articles at the Grand Island Independent about the impact on one small community (registration required).

There was, however,  one thing about this raid that stood out for me.

We live in a time where immigration, immigrants and migrants are pawns in a political campaign.  A propaganda campaign has been so successful that I hear many people saying that we need a "solution" to the "immigration problem" but when asked, are unable to tell you what exactly the "problem" is.  

America Be Scared!  We are coming for the jobs you don't want to do!  We are coming to work for you!  

 Here in Texas we have city councils like the ones in Friendswood trying to make English the "official" language of the city, and Farmer's Branch where they want to take it a step further and make their city into a Sundown Town.

In Grand Island, Nebraska, something happened that was a little different.  A police chief refused to participate in the raid:

About 25 unmarked vehicles surrounded the Swift & Co. plant in Grand Island as part of a federal raid dubbed "Operation Wagon Train." All meat production is stopped, for now, at the plants.

In Nebraska, Grand Island police refused to be part of the raid at the plant in that city. Police Chief Steve Lamken said he met with ICE Iimmigration and Customs Enforcment) officials on Tuesday morning and told them his department would not be involved.

Grand Island Police Chief Steve Lamken said he refused to let his officers take part in the raid.

"When this is all over, we're still here taking care of our community and if I have a significant part of my population that's fearful and won't call us, then that's not good for our community," he said.

How about that.  A police chief who puts the needs of his community ahead of politics.  A police chief who understands that it is in nobody's interest to have innocent people living in fear of police and afraid to call the police when they are in danger.  A police chief who understands that even if people are here illegally they are still human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

The only sad thing here is that Grand Island Police Chief Steve Lamken is the exception and not the rule.

Originally posted to jimmyjack on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 09:06 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I want to tip you but there is no jar! (5+ / 0-)
  •  Seattle has the same rule about non involvement (9+ / 0-)

    with immigration enforcement for the same reason.

    However the timing is suspect on the raids. All the "Christmas" hams Swift packs have already been shipped. The labor draw down after the holiday rush is not going to hurt the companies at all even though their legal and illegal workforce will have a lean holiday season. The whole thing will blow over by the time packing picks up again and the companies will find another "contractor" loophole to give them the needed deniability to keep on keepin on paying a fraction of the wage such dirty and dangerous work should pay.

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 09:15:42 AM PST

  •  Here's anothe link to a story about Grand Island (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado Luis, rsheridan6

    This link does not require registration.
    KETV-Omaha, Nebraska

    •  Immigration enforcement, Republican-style (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eugene, lcrp, BlogDog, Duke1676, wa ma

      The article says that no charges are being filed against the meat-packing plant.

      This raid will accomplish nothing, except to cause trouble for some families and shut down the plant for a little while.  New immigrants will be there in a matter of months if there are jobs for them, which there will be if Swift can hire them with impunity.

      •  It's called learning from experience (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rsheridan6

        Immigration agents/officers know from past experience (at least I know I did) not to waste time filing charges against corporations.  Companies' make political contributions and expect a return on that investment when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  Charges may get filed, but a judge will dismiss them (under pressure) a majority of the time.

  •  On Lou Dobbs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado Luis, eugene, fritzrth, AllanTBG

    a few nights ago he is railign against "illegal aliens" exclaiming that "illegals, criminals, and terrorists" coming over the border. meanwhile all the stock footage shows people working

    what a cazzo

    "At this point, being honest with oneself is the highest form of patriotism." -Luigi Barzini, The Italians

    by indefinitelee on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 09:17:55 AM PST

  •  is cynicism ok? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcrp, Duke1676

    i'm sorry, but my prejudices against nebraska in general, a state i visit frequently and one replete with racists of the 30-year-old-misinformation variety.

    meat is a huge industry in nebraska, a republican state, and these undocumented workers make a lot of money for the republicans who in turn float the political system there.

    •  How do you feel about Colorado? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      red moon dog, kfred, wa ma, greenchiledem

      The raids hit the Swift plant here in Colorado. Greeley is the headquarters for Swift. The headlines of today's Rocky Mountain News - Showdown in Greeley: Feds raid meat plants in Colorado, 5 other states, arrest hundreds after immigration, ID theft probe.

      This should bring back those Hispanic voters...

      Meanwhile, workers' families, activists and community officials in several areas that are home to Swift facilities criticized the sweeps. Many workers who were taken by ICE had attended an early-morning Mass before their shifts to celebrate the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, an important day in the Hispanic community that commemorates the apparition of the Virgin Mary to a peasant.

      "This is a day we should all be celebrating," said Lupe Tapia, 22, whose sister Melicia, 19, was being held inside the plant by ICE officials.

      "We're fighting a war in Iraq, but they've declared war on our people," said Felipe Martinez, whose wife, Maria, was taken away.

      Confianza, an association of Hispanic ministers, issued a blistering statement calling the raids "unconscionable," saying ICE "overstepped the bounds of decency and respect" and left families confused and facing an uncertain future.

      "Furthermore, it is deplorable that Americans who happen to have brown skin and work at Swift were also 'rounded up with the idea to sort it out later, as one local community leader described the situation,' " the organization said.

      Tancredo and Musgrave think it's way cool...

      Colorado's congressional delegation weighed in loudly, with Rep. Tom Tancredo hailing the raid, congratulating law enforcement and adding: "My hope at this point is that the U.S. government has the courage to prosecute the Swift & Co. executives who may have been complicit in their hiring."

      That call was echoed by U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, whose district includes Greeley.

  •  Anti-immigrant thuggery (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado Luis, lcrp, Man Eegee, paige, serrano

    In my area (rural western New York) a wave of federal raids on farm labor camps caused the agricultural workforce to evaporate just in time for the harvest. The result according to one community website has been thousands of tons of produce rotting in the fields and a few more hard-pressed family farms closing for good.

    Score another victory for the delusional "nativist" wingnuts who think it's good for America to treat our immigrant workers like criminals.

  •  Lamken Knows Whereof He Speaks!!! (5+ / 0-)

    A good friend of mine is a high-ranking police official in Phoenix, and he once explained to me that migrantes are victims of a lot of monetary crimes, for two main reasons: 1) Predators know that they deal mostly in cash, and when they get paid; and 2)because of showboat stunts like this, witnesses (testigos) are afraid to come forward.  

    Like Lamken, he asserted the best thing, by far, that they could do to reduce crime is to build trust w/the migrante community.  

    Oh, and btw, the best way to make the roads safer and suffer fewer serious wrecks is to permit them to qualify for Drivers' Licenses, too!!!

  •  Not to mention Immigration is a federal thing (6+ / 0-)

    I'm a former immigration officer.  Local police do not have the training (to recognized legal documents and fraud documents), nor the jurisdiction to enforce the INA and 8CFR.

    This was a good call on the part of the local PD.  I'm proud (in this instance) to be a native Nebraskan.  Much of rural Nebraska, where I grew up, is very racist and xenophobic, so this is a good sign that times might be changing.  I also remember touring the packing plants in Grand Island as a 4-Her when my market steer went to the carcass contest.  It was very informative, not just on a beef cattle perspective either.  There was not one white person on the packing line.

  •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

    for posting on this important event.
    I would love to see this on the front page.  It's a huge issue and the ICE going in on a sweep brings up some ugly similarities to infamous police actions of the past.

  •  I was happy to see Jimmy Jack (0+ / 0-)

    did this story. I just posted a diary on the entire affair in Greeley, Colorado yesterday. It can be found here here called An Immigrant Christmas.
    I linked to this story about Grand Island. That Sheriff is a true humanitarian.

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