Were workers, not criminals!
At Iowa meeting, workers denounce
plan to turn local cops into la migra
Latinos en Acción de CCI
April 17 protest meeting in Marshalltown, Iowa, organized by Latinos in Action to press City Council to cancel plan to turn local police into la migra.
BY SETH GALINSKY
MARSHALLTOWN, IowaThe hall at the Salvation Army headquarters here overflowed April 17 with 175 people opposed to a plan to turn local police into enforcers of federal immigration laws.
Most of those at the meeting were current or former employees of the huge Swift pork plant on the outskirts of town. Entire families attended. The program took place primarily in Spanish, with simultaneous translation for a handful of people who spoke only English. Shouts of Sí se puede! (Yes we can!) filled the hall.
We are workers, not criminals, said Samuel Carvajal in opening the gathering. We can stop this plan. Carvajal is a leader of Latinos en Acción de CCI (Latinos in Action), which organized the event.
Erica Palmer, an organizer of the group, told the crowd that last Novembermore than a month before the
December 12 raid on Swift factories across the country by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)the Marshalltown City Council began discussing a proposal for ICE to train five local cops in immigration law enforcement.
If this plan is approved, the police could stop you for any reason, such as drunk driving and other traffic infractions, even for loud music at a party, and take you to the police station, access the ICE database to determine your legal status, and have you deported, Palmer said.
ICE wants to train 50 cops in the area, including here and in Ottumwa, another packing center, she said. The training of local and state police would allow them to officially act as immigration cops with ICE supervision. This is authorized under Section 287g of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, signed into law by President William Clinton in 1996.
The ICE web site says police units in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia have implemented similar agreements. ICE is actively working to expand the program.
The Nov. 8, 2006, issue of Times-Republican, a local daily, reported that 10 to 12 Iowa police agencies have expressed interest in participating. Final approval has not yet been given.
In the same article, Marshalltown police chief Lon Walker claimed that under the plan, if an undocumented resident was pulled over for speeding, officers would only issue a ticket for having no drivers license unless the resident had been previously deported.
But among the 287g success stories touted on the ICE web site are the arrest by the deputy sheriff of Floridas Collier County of 20 people for alleged attempts to purchase fraudulently obtained drivers licenses. ICE states the plan also targets the possession of fraudulent Alien Registration and Social Security cards and U.S. birth certificates.
This plan would hurt workers with or without papers, Swift worker Pedro Nera said at the April 17 meeting.
We would be stopped by the cops just because we have a Hispanic face, added María, who identified herself only with her first name.
Scores of workers signed up to actively aid Latinos en Accións efforts to convince the Marshalltown council to reject the plan in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Norma González-Hernández, one of the 30 workers from the Swift plant here charged with felonies, including identity theft and illegal reentry, goes to trial April 30. Two have already been convicted. They are among the 99 arrested at the plant December 12 and in the weeks prior to the raid.
Gonzálezs lawyers said they would be glad to see supporters of her right to remain in the United States attend the trial, which will take place at the federal courthouse in Des Moines.
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