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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 71/No. 39      October 22, 2007


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(lead article)
Immigration cops sweep Southern California
Workers organize to protect each other
ICE agents rounded up 1,300 at homes, workplaces, and prisons in Southern California over the last two weeks. Many immigrants are warning each other or not opening the door when agents come around.

LOS ANGELES—Federal immigration officials announced October 3 that they arrested more than 1,300 immigrant workers in raids here and in surrounding counties over the previous two weeks. Some 600 people have already been deported.

As the raids continue, some workers are organizing to defend each other. In the early morning of October 4, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents knocked on the door of an apartment complex manager in Reseda, asking where a tenant lived. When she realized they were from la migra, Angelita Pascacio began phoning residents, telling them not to open the door. Other neighbors did the same.

“They came through, but no one opened the door and in about 10 minutes they left,” Pascacio told reporters.

ICE agents have come into that community repeatedly over the last year. Residents told the Spanish-language daily La Opinión that they have developed a network. “Some neighbors offered to take the children of a family that doesn’t have documents to school,” said Ana, who gave only her first name. “I think that in this regard we’re all united.”

The government claims it is targeting “criminals.” But of those arrested in the first two weeks, 450 people who had committed no crimes received deportation orders. Another 45 are facing felony charges of reentering the United States after a prior deportation. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison. Some of those arrested were legal permanent residents with criminal convictions.

The government “is covering itself by saying that everyone they’re deporting are criminals,” packinghouse worker David Acevedo told the Militant. “They’re not. The majority come to work.”

ICE agents grabbed nearly 800 people from jails in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. More than 500 others were arrested in their homes or workplaces. The Los Angeles Times described 146 of the arrests as “collateral”—people unable to prove legal status when agents asked them.

The arrests were done through collaboration between federal immigration agents and local cops. ICE recently created a 24-hour command center where local police can exchange information with immigration officials to speed up deportations.

“I don’t consider myself a criminal,” Ramon Yac Mahik told reporters from an immigration jail. The 35-year-old garment worker was arrested at his home. He said he has convictions from many years ago, and has faced a deportation order since 1999. “I would like to fight to see if they let me stay here with my children,” he said.

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