Defending Immigrant Workers Means Defending Us All

A joint statement by food, farm & labor organizations

Date: 8/7/2019

ICE officials raided numerous Mississippi food processing plants on August 7, arresting 680 mostly Latin-American workers in what marked the largest workplace sting in over ten years.

The raids happened just as Donald Trump was arriving at El Paso, Texas, the majority-Latinx city where a white nationalist linked to the white supremacist theory of a “Hispanic invasion” was charged in a shooting that left 22 people dead in the border city.

Coordinated attacks by 600 ICE agents took place in Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie, and Sebastapol. Family and friends watched as arrested workers filled several buses at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, 40 miles east of Jackson. They were taken to a military hangar to be “processed”, i.e. be interviewed about their immigration status and have their identification documents reviewed.

Some of the workers in these plants had been recently organizing and in one plant had won a $3.75 million settlement from an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission class-action suit charging the company with sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination, and retaliation against Latino workers.

Entire communities are reeling in pain today as loved ones are torn from them violently and permanently. Mothers will go to bed tonight without their children, brothers and sisters will not know whether they will ever see each other again, and children are left without parents to care for them.

For a community already under attack by informal white supremacist organizations, to have ICE and the full power of the executive branch of the US government targeting them is devastating.

Despite the fear and shock brought to all of our immigrant and indigenous migrant communities, food system workers, farmers, and organizers nationwide unite in solidarity with the workers in Mississippi. Our siblings working to put food on their table and your table in Mississippi are the latest casualties of a system that attempts to destroy our will. But we will not only survive —we will thrive as our resolve becomes focused on “our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

  • We demand an immediate moratorium on all immigration enforcement activities until Congress approves a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
  • We demand that all workers captured in today’s raids be immediately released.
  • We demand that all camps where children are being held be immediately shuttered and the children reunited with their families.

Until this is done we are all in a state of siege and none of us is safe. FCWA and HEAL have established a “bail fund” to help food workers and their families when they’re arrested by ICE.

Feature photo credit: Steve Rapport