The cruelty—the utter contempt for common decency and common sense—of this government was on full display last week when agents of the Department of Homeland Security’s division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), some in riot gear, stormed into six Swift & Company plants in Cactus Texas; Grand Island, Nebraska; Greeley, Colorado; Hyrum, Utah; Marshaltown, Iowa; and, Worthington, Minnesota. They detained 1282 day shift workers, roughly 10% of the entire workforce. Workers on other shifts were left to worry.
Inside the plants workers were separated into two groups: US citizens and non-US citizens. Non-US citizens were herded on to buses and transported to deportation centers, some in distant states. Families were wrenched apart. In some communities children were left in school at the end of the day with no one to pick them up. Immigrant communities were in shock.
The raids were clearly calculated to spread terror. Michael Chertoff head of the Department of Homeland Security ominously put it this way:
It’s going to be a deterrent to illegal workers. It’s going to cause them [immigrant workers] 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.”