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ICE Immigration Raids

by Geraldo Rivera | Feb 20, 2009

An eruption of deadly ambushes, street shootings, home invasions, assassinations, kidnappings and decapitations has brought chaos to Mexican border towns from Juarez to Tijuana and apprehension and worse to American cities near the line. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon deployed his army in 2006 to dismantle his nation’s all-powerful drug cartels, “over 8,000 casualties have been violently claimed in cartel hot spots across Mexico,” according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. And the violence isn’t staying south of the border. According to federal and state authorities, a dangerous and deadly epidemic of kidnapping-for-ransom has hit Phoenix since 2006, over 370 in 2008 alone, making it second only to Mexico City, as the kidnapping capital of the world. In every Arizona case, both the victim and the suspect is a criminal alien connected to the Mexican drug trade.

Blame ICE. From 2006 through 2008, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, our most elite domestic force to combat terrorist infiltrators and criminal immigrants should have been standing side-by-side with Arizona cops and other law enforcement agencies battling the obscenely violent Mexican drug gangsters, they were chasing kosher meat packers making seven dollars an hour cutting the heads off cows in Iowa. As a result of a politically-inspired drive to hype the numbers of immigrant arrests, the essential mission expressed in the name of ICE’s parent, the Department of Homeland Security was forsaken.

Created to battle those who threaten American life and liberty, at precisely 10 a.m. Monday May 12, 2008 the armed might of the United States was instead unleashed in Postville a picturesque northeastern Iowa town. Like similar raids across the country, the target was a pitiful group of exploited Latino workers, men, women and children who threatened no one and who were barely making minimum wage doing difficult, dirty, distasteful jobs no Americans want.

With two powerful helicopters hovering overhead, approximately 900 heavily-armed federal ICE agents carried out their largest workplace raid in history on the sprawling meatpacking plant run by Agriprocessors, the nation’s biggest kosher slaughterhouse employing 968 workers, hundreds of them here illegally most from Guatemala some from Mexico.

Picture the chaos as the 900 shouting, armored agents exploded on the plant with coordinated quasi-military style tactics and arms to match. Too bad it wasn’t Osama bin Laden because these warriors were ready for any enemy, however formidable. But they should have been carrying butterfly nets instead of machine guns because what they found according to numerous eyewitnesses were hundreds of panic-stricken male butchers and female chicken processors, all trying to escape or collapsing in tears at the terrifying sight of roaring helmeted giants, who towered over these tiny mostly Mayan-Indian descended, undocumented or falsely documented workers who have dreaded this exact moment in their every immigrant nightmare.

Only five had criminal records, which were supposed to be ICE’s priority, five of 389. The other 384 were sitting ducks whose lives are ruined, even as their families were terrorized and remain bereft, their mothers feeding them from the local volunteer food bank created by townspeople, various faith-based groups, and outside supporters moved by the families’ plight; their husbands adding to our swelling federal prison population, otherwise innocent, hard-working immigrant workers who are now felons.

Specifically I blame ICE boss Julie L. Meyers. After getting her nomination out of committee on a strict Republican Party line vote, Meyers received what is called a ‘recess appointment’ in January 2006, just in time to amp up the effort against innocent immigrants. She is perhaps the Republican most responsible for the Bush-era immigration excesses that sunk John McCain’s chances of winning the Hispanic vote. McCain wasn’t perfect, but he deserved better than this political hack that got the job because at the time of her appointment her husband was Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff’s chief of staff and her uncle was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It is perhaps unsurprising that Meyers formerly worked for Kenneth Starr. She was his lead prosecutor in the Independent Counsel’s notoriously failed case against Clinton friend Susan McDougal, one of the true heroes of the wretched Whitewater-era. Meyers rocky tenure at ICE was marred by an infamous Halloween costume party she hosted for ICE employees of which she was the judge, awarding first price to a white ICE agent who came dressed in black face as an escaped Jamaican prisoner. Many believe her the source of the illegal leak that Barack Obama’s Kenyan aunt was an undocumented immigrant, a charge she denied.

By playing up the agency’s abilities to deal with any contingency, ICE was given lavish post 9/11 funding, $625 million dollars over five years to hunt terrorists and criminal immigrants. Instead, to satisfy the talk radio crowd they went lazily and ideologically for the “low hanging fruit,” and they did it because they were ordered to do it by Ms. Meyers, memos show.

Now Mexican gangsters strong enough to declare war against their own government have made Phoenix second only to Mexico City as kidnapping capital of the world, even as mighty ICE fills federal prisons with Latino workers. And those 389 Iowa jobs vacated by the draconian May 2008 raid? They were not filled by strapping young white farm boys or the Mid-West’s urban poor or laid off factory workers from other hard-hit areas of Recession-plagued America. 150 political refugees from Somali now work those plants, getting almost twice the pay the exploited Latino workers received before being shackled and hauled away. I’ve got nothing against any immigrant looking for honest work, but what exactly was the point of these massive raids? Not surprisingly, Ms. Meyers was first out the door when Obama won, she resigned on November 5th.

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