Detention of families for immigration violations; large ICE raids which leave children of detainees unaccounted for; immigrant detentions for long periods in a hodgepodge of facilities without adequate medical care (resulting in deaths), suicide prevention, or legal representation.
On March 6, 2007, the US Immigration and Customs Service arrested 361 undocumented workers in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The raid was widely criticized because there had been little coordination with Social Services to see that children of those detained would be taken care of.
On May 12, 2008, ICE conducted another mass raid in Postville, Iowa against a kosher meat processing plant Agriprocessors with a history of worker safety and environmental violations in which 389 undocumented workers were arrested. In the Postville case, denied access to immigration attorneys (other court appointed attorneys were provided) and threatened with felony convictions with a mandatory two year minimum, 270 (within 2 weeks of their arrest) accepted a plea bargain of 5 months in prison followed by immediate deportation. While ICE was eager to rush prosecutions of the workers, no manager at Agriprocessors has yet been charged with anything.
In California ICE raids over 3 weeks beginning May 5, 2008 targeted against those who had not obeyed deportation orders led to the arrest of 905. 410 of these were incidental arrests for immigration violations during searches for members of the first group. About half of the 905 were quickly deported.
Such raids don’t actually reduce the number of “illegal aliens” in the country in any significant way. They are sensationalist gestures for the benefit of anti-immigration groups to show that something is being done when in fact very little is. They are also meant to terrorize and demoralize undocumented workers not so much to encourage them to leave but to further disempower them.
On October 30, 2008, the CEO of the Postville Agriprocessors plant, the son of the owner, Sholom Rubashkin was arrested. The federal complaint alleges that he had advanced knowledge of the ICE raid and had sought to obtain fraudulent IDs for his workers.