Workers protest gov’t raid at factory in Texas

Demonstrate against ICE arrest of 284 workers

By George Chalmers
April 22, 2019
Protesters outside factory in Allen, Texas, during April 3 immigration raid. Immigration and local cops surrounded plant, detaining 284 workers, in largest factory raid in decade.
Kera News/Anthony CaveProtesters outside factory in Allen, Texas, during April 3 immigration raid. Immigration and local cops surrounded plant, detaining 284 workers, in largest factory raid in decade.

ALLEN, Texas — Two hundred Immigration and Customs Enforcement police and local cops surrounded the CVE Technology Group factory here April 3 and arrested 284 workers. They were accused of not being authorized to work in the U.S.

It was the largest single site immigration raid since May 2008, when immigration cops detained 389 immigrant workers at the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.

The cops shouted, “Don’t move. Don’t make us shoot,” Amalia Martínez, a worker at the Allen plant, told Univisión TV. The bosses “didn’t say anything,” she said. “It’s as if they were in favor. So many years raising the company up. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to those they are going to deport.”

While the raid was going on several dozen people came from throughout the area to protest outside the plant. Among the signs they held were: “No human is illegal” and “ICE stop terrorizing our communities.”

CVE repairs consumer tech products, including Samsung cellphones sold by T-Mobile and AT&T. It employs several hundred workers. Besides at CVE search warrants were executed at four of the staffing companies that funnel workers there. Starting pay is only $8 an hour.

The workers who were detained — 80% women — are from 15 different countries, including 112 from Mexico, 48 from Nigeria and 38 from El Salvador. By the end of the day 174 had been released for “humanitarian” reasons — like being a single parent with children — and given notice to appear for a deportation hearing.

“It’s insane to just get people who are working to make a living,” Valerie Trevino, 24, told the Dallas Morning News as she was waiting for her mother, Graciela Velazquez, to be released. “They’ve done nothing wrong besides work. My mom’s worked her entire life here. Other than that, what really is her crime?” Velazquez came to the U.S. from Mexico 25 years ago,

Defend workers without papers

At a press conference after the raid, Homeland Security Investigations agent Katrina Berger tried to stoke divisions between U.S.- and foreign-born workers by claiming the purpose of the arrests was to “ensure U.S. citizens and legal U.S. residents are hired for jobs in the U.S.” She cynically claimed it was also to “ensure that illegal workers are not preyed upon or paid less than the going wage or otherwise coerced or cheated or subjected to unsafe working conditions without any means of complaint.”

In fact, one of the main reasons the employing class depends on workers without papers is to drive down conditions of all workers, hoping they’ll be too intimidated to fight against low pay and speedup.

ICE says that it is investigating CVE Technology and the four staffing companies with an eye to bringing criminal charges against them.

Since January, ICE and Homeland Security officials have given notices of I-9 audits like the one carried out at CVE prior to the raid to 5,200 businesses nationwide.

Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Dallas, denounced the raid and threat of deportations. “My campaign fights for the rights of workers here without all the papers the government says are required. We demand amnesty for all 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S.,” Kennedy said. “The government hopes to divide workers from fighting together by promoting the lie that immigrant workers ‘take’ jobs from U.S. workers. Working people need to say to each other, ‘We don’t care where you were born, what language you speak, what papers you have or don’t have. Let’s join together to fight for better wages and working conditions for all.’”

“I urge people to join in the upcoming May Day protests in your area,” she said.