n December 12, 2006, the Bush administration conducted massive worksite raids at six Swit & Company meatpacking plants in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, andUtah. My union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW),represented workers at ve o those plants at that time, and, today, we represent the workers at allsix plants.
In a dramatic departure rom our nation’s ideals, our undamental principles, and rom the rule o law, thousandso workers at each plant were rounded up, detained, and criminalized or doing no more than reporting to work, nomore than trying to earn a living and a better lie or their amilies. Immigration and Customs Enorcement (ICE)agents handcued workers, denied their right to counsel, denied their right to meet with union representatives,and denied, nally, the basic human decency o allowing people to use the bathroom, call spouses, or notiy schoolsand childcare centers where children were let waiting with no one able to tell them where their parents might beor when, i ever, they would see them again.Out o an entire workorce o 12,000, ICE had obtained a ederal criminal warrant identiying only 133 suspects o identity thet. The ederal agents could have—as they did a week earlier at a Swit plant in Louisville, Kentucky—gone to the Human Resources oce and asked that the identied suspects be pulled rom the production line, sothey could question and, i necessary, apprehend them. But the ICE warrant on December 12, 2006, was used lessas an eective law enorcement tool and more as a way to grab headlines and stir hysteria around immigration andimmigrants. As subsequent raids occurred, it became clear that our government’s December 12 actions merely setthe stage or ever-escalating ICE violations o the U.S. Constitution and the rule o law.Shortly ater the Swit raids, the UFCW held public hearings at which plant workers testied about the abuse they endured at the hands o ICE agents. They expressed proound bewilderment at how government agents couldround up thousands o individuals and hold them against their will. They wanted to know why their rights had
We reject the alse choice between our saety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers . . . drated a charter to assure the rule o law and the rights o man. . . . Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up or expedience’s sake.
President Barack Obama