Friday, December 15, 2006

Advocacy response to immigration raids in Minnesota

Greetings sisters and brothers,

This comes from list member Myrna Frantz of Marshalltown, Iowa. Myrna writes:
Please share this information from the Mennonites with the On Earth Peace list.
I had to get this mailing through Church and Peace via Germany. We are not getting news in Marshalltown
of what is happening across the state. We need to be united on this. Thank you.
There are candlelight vigils planned across the Midwest this weekend, including the one we are
planning in Marshalltown, Iowa.
Thank you,
Myrna Frantz
Marshalltown, Iowa

Evening, December 14, 2006


Perhaps you have heard of the hundreds of people being detained from the immigration raids on six Swift & CO raids earlier this week. Paul Neufeld Weaver, currently a professor at Bluffton University, formerly lived in Worthington, Minn. He wrote the note below and invited us to share it with you.

Tomorrow we might have additional advocacy responses--folks in Washington, D.C., who work on this issue met Thursday afternoon.

If you have more time to respond now then you will later, call or fax

--your representative and senators to Congress

--Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Phone: (408) 271-8700 Fax: (408) 271-8713

and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Phone: (617) 565-3170 Fax: (617) 565-3183 who will chair the Subcommittees on Immigration. Urge them to have their committees exercise more control and oversight on federal agencies when it comes to these types of selective and terrorizing enforcement tactics.

The Capitol switchboard (which connects constituents to all offices) is

Look here for fax numbers and advice on how to write:

Here are our immigrant pages:


If you need news, do a web search. Much is available on 'both' sides of the issue.

Content ideas for your fax below.

In a separate e-mail, I'll forward the list of vigils that Krista Zimmerman, MCC Washington Office, gathered today.

As we think of the Christmas story, the 'no room at the inn', the fleeing to Egypt, it's not much of stretch to make current applications to immigrants here in the United States.

Peace, Susan

Susan Mark Landis Peace Advocate Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership

phone/fax: 330-683-6844

letter from Paul Neufeld Weaver to friends:


We are grieving. Yesterday, December 12, is the holiest day of the year for many Mexicans who celebrate the day of la Virgen de Guadalupe, whose appearance to Indian peasant Juan Diego 500 years ago was a moment when a conquered people recognized in this foreign (Christian) faith a God who could identify with their suffering. However, yesterday a day of joy and celebration became a tragic day for many of our friends in Minnesota.

In what may be one of the largest mass arrests in US history*, yesterday Homeland Security Agents conducted simultaneous raids in which hundreds and probably thousands of workers at six Swift & Co. plants around the country were detained. Laurel and I have been in close contact since yesterday with many friends in Worthington, where we lived until August. It sounds like between 500-1000 people were detained in this rural farming community of
11,000. Many kids came home from school yesterday to find their parents gone. Comunidad Cristiana in Worthington, housed 30 people overnight who were afraid to go home because ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) was going house to house. Friends, both Anglo and Latino, were bringing food and blankets to the church last night. At WALA, the school we helped found, school personnel had to find alternative homes for children of three families where the children were left without parents at home.

7-9 buses pulled up at the Swift Pork processing plant in Worthington, at 7 am. At 7:30 am, Homeland Security notified Worthington Police of the raid.
The UFCW (Union of Food and Commercial Workers) has denounced the raids for broadly targeting a whole ethnic group of workers. Swift has publicly stated that Homeland Security has violated an agreement they had with Swift.

Homeland Security has said this is related to an investigation into an identity theft ring, but I believe that is the spin they are putting on a get-tough on immigrants policy pursued by Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff and shrouded in the cloak of identity theft to gain the support of US citizens who, though they have strong concerns about immigration, overwhelmingly oppose massive deportations as a response to immigration problems.

Immigrant Rights groups are calling on supporters to contact Congressmen, Senators, and Homeland Security to express concern over the raids and call on respect for the rights of the workers who are being detained.

Faxes might say that:

-You request that ICE immediately release the people detained on the basis of mal-procedure, unjust racial profiling and not basing their detentions on substantial and individual suspicion. Ask that your Senators and Representatives publicly take this stand and work with ICE's Congemi to make it happen.

-You don't support the current actions of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, fear mongering and dividing families is not the way to solve the immigration issues in our communities. This is a human rights violation being committed against the workers that will heavily disrupt the economy.


Here is a copy of a letter Paul's Bluffton College colleague Pam Nath wrote and gave him permission to share:

Dear ______________

I am writing to make sure that you are aware of what happened Tuesday in six cities around the country where ICE officials raided six Swift & Co meat plants. I am also hoping that you will share my concern about what is happening. My two primary concerns involve:

1) the children and families of these workers who have been detained. My friends, Paul and Laurel Neufeld Weaver previously lived in Worthington, Minnesota where their contacts estimate that somewhere from 500 to 1000 people were detained in Worthington alone. Some concerns have also been raised about people being detained on the basis of skin color and where they work, rather than on individual suspicions of any wrongdoing. If this is the case, then this is a human rights violation.

2) the need for a sensible guest worker program so that our immigration policy doesn't punish vulnerable folks who are simply trying to take care of their families, while enabling businesses who take advantage of these low-wage workers. I would also like to note that as far as I can tell, these cases do not involve "predatory" identity theft in the common meaning given to that term. In the meantime, while a sensible guest worker program is being developed and passed through Congress, I would support a moratorium on all deportations to prevent the sort of terror that the events yesterday have wreaked on these communities.

Sincerely, Pamela S. Nath, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology Bluffton University

Paul Neufeld Weaver, EdD Assistant Professor of Education Bluffton University
1 University Drive Bluffton, OH 45817

*Some say the largest mass arrest in US history occurred when 10,000 were arrested on May 3, 1971 in the May Day anti-Vietnam War protests in DC. I feel it is fairly unprecedented in the US to detain such a large number of people in cases where they were not part of a public protest, strike, or political action.


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