THE JAN. 7 arrest of workers on their way to shovel snow at Gillette Stadium has been compared to the New Bedford factory raid of March 2007 for the large number of people arrested and for the questions it raises about the priorities and tactics of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“Detained immigrants were set to clear Gillette snow,’’ Page A1, Jan. 8). Let’s hope the similarities stop there.
Shortly after the New Bedford arrests, ICE began to transport the factory workers in shackles, on a plane to a Texas detention center. Far from home, the workers were effectively denied access to their attorneys, visits from their families, access to evidence, and a chance at a fair hearing.
I helped post bond for the New Bedford factory workers, to allow them to return to our community for a chance at a fair hearing. The hearing does not guarantee anyone can stay in the country, but it helps us avoid the mistake of quickly deporting people who are here legally or are eligible to stay.
In April 2009 ICE announced a shift away from workplace raids that primarily target employees. The agency has also indicated it will focus on dangerous criminals, and consider alternatives to detention where there is no threat to the community. We hope this recent on-the-way-to-work raid does not signal a slip in ICE’s stated priorities, and that ICE will not compound this slip with unnecessary detention or transfer to faraway facilities.
Chairman National Immigrant Bond Fund