Union officials are outraged over a massive immigration sweep yesterday, which sent 1,000 Homeland Security Department agents -- some in riot gear -- to meatpacking plants in six states to round up immigrant workers suspected of using fake identification, but may have picked up legal workers in the process.
"Stormtroopers came in with machine guns, rounded [the workers] into the cafeterias, separated identified citizens from non-citizens, and then they took away all green cards and put non-citizens onto buses," regardless of the immigrants' legal status, Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) told me this morning.
Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."
Recently unsealed court documents show that DHS had identified 170 identity-fraud suspects it wished to apprehend, but that the agency wanted to round up as many as 5,000 other workers because it "further expect[ed] to apprehend persons who are engaged in large-scale identity theft[.]" Union officials say the total number of detained workers may be higher than 5,000. (Update: We've uploaded those court documents to our document collection here.)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has not released official tallies from the raids, but have promised to do so at a 10 a.m. press conference in Washington. UFCW is holding a press conference at 9:30 to discuss what they believe to be heavy-handed tactics used by the federal government.