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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 72/No. 22      June 2, 2008


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(lead article)
Workers in Iowa march
against ICE factory raid
Militant/Jenny Shegos
Sofia, one of the workers arrested and released following the May 12 raid by ICE at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, marches with 400 May 18 in Waterloo, Iowa.

WATERLOO, Iowa, May 18—“I was affected by the raid,” Elida told several hundred people gathered at Queen of Peace Catholic Church here, her voice shaking. Elida’s husband has been in jail since the May 12 immigration raid at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in nearby Postville.

“We are not criminals,” she said. “We just want to work to feed our children.” She demanded the government “return my husband to me and free the rest of those who have been arrested.”

“To my fellow Latinos I say, we must keep fighting until we win.”

The meeting at the church included immigrant rights activists, religious leaders, trade unionists, and other workers. Mark Lauritsen, an international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, was present. Following the meeting, more than 400 people marched two-and-a-half miles to the Cattle Congress fairgrounds, where many of those detained in the May 12 raid had been held. While the workers have now been sent to other prisons around the state, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are still operating out of the grounds.

The spirited march was led by Agriprocessors workers from Postville and their children. Several of the women who marched were wearing GPS ankle bracelets required as a condition of their release by ICE after being arrested during the raid at the meatpacking plant.

A busload from Marshalltown, Iowa, was organized by Latinos en Acción de CCI (Latinos in Action of CCI), an affiliate of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. The bus included many meatpacking workers from Swift & Co., which was raided by ICE in December 2006, as well as students from Marshalltown Community College and construction workers.

A vanload of workers and students came from the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Several nuns, priests, and ministers also joined the march.

There were many U.S.-born workers—white and Black—from Waterloo and other towns in northeast Iowa.

Oscar Gomez, a 15-year-old high school student from Waterloo, said he joined the march because “one of my uncles was arrested by ICE. He has five kids and a wife and she doesn’t know how she can pay the bills.”

“It’s messed up,” Gomez said. “This just breaks families apart.” For three nights in a row he joined the protests outside the Cattle Congress.

Michelle, a Black worker on the Tyson meatpacking plant cleaning crew in Waterloo, also joined the march. “They’re doing the same thing to immigrants that they did to Blacks,” she said.

Natalie Morrison contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Socialist candidate joins protests in Iowa against raid
Iowa workers talk about raid, plant conditions

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