Raids by ICE: a psychological war that terrifies our communities

Last tuesday, August 28, to people who live in the area of East Boston and Chelsea in Massachusetts it looked like the city was under siege. Detachments from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and other police forces roamed the streets creating panic among immigrant workers and their families. A community organizer spotted the ICE agents at the Maverick T station and pointed his camera in their direction. He was immediately surrounded, his camera confiscated, he was interrogated, and he was ordered to show his documents. Eventually they let him go. A Spanish-radio reporter who knew the organizer stopped to inquire what was happening. ICE agents told him to move on and out of there. But, the alarm was set off and 1600 AM radio waves were soon filled with phone calls about additional ICE police activity around town. This went on from around 6 am until noon.

Today we know that the forces on the street belonged to local police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Middlesex Sheriff's Department and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The official statements indicate that this action was named, "Operation 13" and its professed targets were members of the Mara Salvatrucha 13 or MS-13 gang. However, on the same day, more than 300 ICE police raided the Koch Foods chicken plant in Fairfield , Ohio arresting more than 160 workers. Only three weeks ago, ICE detained nearly 30 people outside the Market Basket supermarket in Chelsea . This occurred despite the recent Chelsea City Council declaration that their town is a sanctuary city.

ICE tactics lately has been to present their operations as going after "criminal immigrants". Bringing in ICE for the roundup of the so-called "Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) gang" is a smokescreen to gain sympathy for their abusive repression of undocumented migrant workers and their families. The actions of this agency are correctly viewed by millions as a form of police-state repression directed against undocumented workers and an attack on all working people. We demand that ICE release the names of all their detainees and the charges that they face.

We demand an end to the raids against migrant workers and the terror imposed on all immigrants, their families, and our communities. We also call on all immigrant rights and other human rights activists to join forces to confront these attacks. We call on unions to come to the defense of migrant workers. We call on all churches to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters under attack. We demand that the government stop the repression and stop this war against immigrants. We make it clear that ICE police are not welcome in our communities.

No worker is illegal!