[Marxism] Roediger and Zweig: an exchange on race and class

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com
Wed Dec 13 22:06:07 MST 2006

On 12/13/06, Mark Lause <MLause at cinci.rr.com> wrote:
> It might be just my preoccupations, Joaquin, but I've never heard of these
> deportations, though I'm not surprised.
> You could post us a clipping on this...
> It is counterproductive and entirely dishonest to pretend that we're
> ignoring what we don't know about.
> ML

The New York Times
December 14, 2006
Illegal Immigrants at Center of New Identity Theft Crackdown

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on
Wednesday announced a broad new plan to crack down on illegal immigrants who
steal the identities of American citizens to get jobs. The strategy, he
warned, would likely have economic consequences for the industries that rely
heavily on illegal workers.

The announcement came one day after homeland security agents swept into
Swift & Company meatpacking plants in six states and arrested nearly 1,300
workers, almost 10 percent of the company's work force, in what Mr. Chertoff
hailed as the largest workplace crackdown on illegal immigration.

Of the 1,282 workers detained, 65 were charged with identity theft or other
crimes, officials said. The rest face administrative charges for being in
the United States illegally and will likely be deported. The company, which
cooperated with the government, was not charged with any criminal or civil

Mr. Chertoff said the workers used the stolen identities of hundreds of
American citizens to prove to Swift & Company that they were allowed to work
in the United States. And he warned that he intended to aggressively pursue
document-theft rings and the illegal immigrant workers who use them, even
though he acknowledged that "when we remove the illegal workers, there's
going to be some kind of a slowdown."

"Obviously, when — even unwittingly — a business is significantly built on
illegal labor, once we enforce the law, that's going to have a ripple
effect," Mr. Chertoff said at a news conference in response to questions
about the impact of the new strategy on businesses and the economy.

"It's going to be a deterrent to illegal workers," he said. "It's going to
cause them to say that, you know, this happened in Swift, it could easily
happen somewhere else. In fact, I'm pretty much going to guarantee we're
going to keep bringing these cases."

The news sent shudders through the nation's businesses because Swift &
Company, the world's second largest processor of fresh beef and pork, had
tried to weed out illegal workers and had relied on a federal program
designed to help employers detect fake identity documents. Mr. Chertoff
acknowledged on Wednesday that the program, known as Basic Pilot, is unable
to detect authentic identity documents that have been stolen.

In a statement, Swift & Company executives said the raids had forced the
company to temporarily suspend operations on Tuesday in its plants in Texas,
Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Utah. They said work resumed on
Wednesday, but warned that production was expected to fall "below normal
levels in the short term." Union officials said that employee attendance
dipped slightly on Wednesday because some immigrants were afraid to return
to work.

Homeland security officials emphasized that only the company's workers — not
the company itself — had been charged with wrongdoing, though the
investigation is continuing. They said Swift's situation demonstrated the
need for a temporary worker program, such as the one advocated by President
Bush, to ensure that companies have access to foreign workers.

Mr. Chertoff also urged Congress to pass legislation that would allow Social
Security officials to pass along information about valid Social Security
numbers being used in multiple workplaces, which then would allow the Basic
Pilot program to capture such data and give it to employers.

But that did little to reassure jittery executives.

"This is any business's nightmare, whether you are in the meat industry or
outside the meat industry," said Janet Riley, spokeswoman for the American
Meat Institute.

Randy Johnson, a vice president of the United States Chamber of Commerce,
warned that the raids would lead companies to question the value of
participating in the Basic Pilot program. And Laura Reiff, co-chairwoman of
the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, said she was deluged on
Wednesday with calls from business owners upset by the Department of
Homeland Security's actions.

"They're frightened; they're outraged," said Ms. Reiff, whose coalition
represents hotels, restaurants, construction companies and other service
industries. "Companies have tried to work with them in good faith. For them
to target a company that is using a program that they're trying to sell is
Full: <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/washington/14immig.html>

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