SENATOR HARKIN CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM FOLLOWING SWIFT RAIDS December 20, 2006Posted by dsheen88 in Immigration reform, MyComments, News and politics, Politics and World Events, Simply Immigration!.
WASHINGTON D.C. —- In the wake of the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on Swift & Co., Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to express concern about alleged humanitarian and civil rights abuses against detainees, and to urge the agency’s cooperation with Congress in implementing comprehensive immigration reform.
The complete text of the letter is as follows.
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue Center, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
I am writing to express my deep concern about the handling of workers of the Swift & Co. meat processing facilities detained throughout the nation last week. As you know, Swift has a plant in Marshalltown , Iowa and close to one hundred workers were arrested at this facility.
Your Department has an obligation to fully enforce our nation’s immigration laws and these raids have provided a very clear illustration of just how broken our current system is.
However, I am appalled by the process that has apparently been used to detain and deport the workers. First, according to both media reports and information my office has received, the hotline by which family members and others were supposed to obtain information has at times been unanswered by ICE officials, and at other times provided no information of any use.
Second, your Department has apparently made it almost impossible for lawyers and even clergy to obtain access to those detained and has transported workers to other states without granting them access to counsel.
Third, although assurances were provided to my staff that any individuals with small children who would otherwise go without care would be released to make alternative arrangements, there continue to be reports of numerous single mothers remaining in custody.
I continue to be concerned that the process in the wake of such raids lacks transparency and is being conducted without even the most basic fairness. I hope you share my belief that the failure to ensure that basic legal rights and humanitarian protections are afforded to individuals in our immigration system reflects poorly on the principles that have made the United States strong.
Finally, this incident highlights the need for comprehensive reform to our antiquated immigration system. Only when we bring the 12 million illegal workers out of the shadows and into the legal system will both industry and employees benefit. These improvements must include increased security at our borders and a means to legal citizenship for immigrants already in the country, which would include fines, learning English, passing a background check and paying back taxes. I hope that your agency will pledge to work with Congress next year to bring about this change.
I look forward to your prompt response.
United States Senator