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Migra raid in Mississippi — interesting Republican connection?

25 August 2008

(21:00 — The New York Times has their story posted, saying “at least 350 workers” said to be in the country illegally were detained.  Barbara Gonzalez, the ICE spokeswoman, said dozens of workers had been “identified, fingerprinted, interviewed, photographed and processed for removal from the U.S.”  [Which sounds like they may be herded through the courts, or whisked off to detention centers somewhere out of sight, out of mind. ]

At Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Laurel, an interpreter (with an anglo name) was interviewed who was bringing several children to the Church.  As in Postville, it’s going to be the Churches that have to deal with these situations.  The ICE spokeswoman:

said the workers would be taken to an ICE detention center to “await the outcome of their cases.” She said 50 would be “released into the community” instead of being sent to the center, for “humanitarian reasons,” including medical difficulties or the need to take care of children.

She said no lawyers were present while the workers were being interrogated. “Everyone will have due process under law,” Ms. Gonzalez said.

“Due process” in immigration cases is dubious at best.

And, I have to admit, that while the bump in ‘hits’ is nice (and I don’t have advertising, so it doesn’t change my income — I depend on donations to keep this site going), it should be a little embarrassing that this is being followed from Mexico, and not by the usual suspects in the immigration rights and political people on the blogosphere.  Slightly bothersome is that I found out about this not from immigrant rights websites, but from one of those “Stop the Illegals” sites.

(added information after original posting on in boldface)

I don’t have much on this.  The Mobile (AL) Clarion-Ledger is reporting only that there is an ICE raid at Howard Industries in Laurel, MS, which appears to be another Postville raid in the making.  Laurel is a city of about 18,000 best known for being the birthplace of pop singer Lance Bass and the fictional home of Blanche DuBois (OK, I looked up the place on “Wikipedia” — never heard of it before).  Melvin Mack, Laurel’s Mayor says of his city:

From the beginning Laurel has been a city who welcomes “outsiders” and incorporates them into its very fiber. Our Hispanic population has been welcomed by the community, and we are proud of the way that we have worked with them for the cultural enrichment of us all.

Howard Industries is the largest employer in the community.  It makes lighting products and electrical equipment.  A second Howard facility, in nearby Ellisville, was also apparently been closed by ICE this afternoon.

Three things makes me think this may be a large Postville style raid.  The Clarion-Ledger was unable to get hold of anyone at the plant, other than the guard shack at the front gate…

An updated story in the Hattiesburg (MS) American (I know I don’t use AP, but it’s all that’s available, and I’m not directly quoting) says that the plant has had to shut down because the number of people detained has left the plant short of workers.

A second report in the Mobile paper quotes the Rev. Nilpon Garcia, pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Laurel, who said he had family members of eight Hispanic workers at Howard Industries call him this morning upset about the raid.    The Seventh Day Adventists are a tiny sect in the United States, but the second or third largest (after the Roman Catholic Church) denomination in Mexico … found mostly in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco.  It’s still a very small number of people, but eight being detained might suggest a much larger number of detainees who so not members of this particular small community.  The pastor of a second church, Rev. Roberto Valez of Peniel Christian Church, was quoted as saying parishioners were picking up children of plant workers from school, and church members were preparing meals when visited by reporters.

Another clue: the local media is giving out an ICE telephone number of relatives to check on the detention of Howard employees.

From the comments in the Clarion-Ledger, it appears that State Auditor, Republican Stacey Pickering was Howard Industries Vice President for Corporate and Media Relations. CEO Billy Howard is a major contributor to Republican candidates: he is listed as giving the maximum legal allowance (2,300) to John McCain in Q2 2008.

But this is the kicker — remember the Postville raids came just as health and safety violations against Agriprocessors were about to being filed.   Emma James of the Hattiesburg American is quoting Barbara Gonzales, the ICE spokesperson, as saying the raids were the result of a “union tip.”

Even more interesting, the Laurel Leader-Call reported on 11-June-2008:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $193,000 in penalties against Howard Industries for 54 violations of federal safety rules at the company’s two manufacturing locations in Laurel.

The producer of electrical power products is being cited with 36 serious violations and proposed penalties of $123,500 at its Pendorf Road plant, with an additional 15 serious violations and proposed penalties of $41,000 at its Eastview plant. The violations include failing to provide employees with proper protective equipment, and to provide machine guards and lockout-tagout procedures. Lockout/tagout refers to preventing accidental start-up of machinery during maintenance.

Two repeat violations with penalties of $27,500 are being proposed for violations similar to those noted during earlier inspections in 2007. Chemical containers lacked identification labels and chains used as slings for lifting loads were shortened using makeshift measures rather than reducing the number of links.

One citation with a $1,000 penalty has been proposed for the company’s failure to make material safety data sheets (MSDS) readily accessible to employees in their work area. A MSDS provides both employees and emergency personnel with information that is of particular use if a spill or other accident occurs.

“It is unconscionable for an employer to tolerate serious injuries, including amputations, as just a cost of doing business, rather than get out into the production areas and fix these numerous problems before employees get injured,” said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA’s Jackson Area Office.

Updates as I learn more.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Tanya colorado permalink
    26 August 2008 5:25 pm

    It breaks my heart to think about all these kids that are paying the price because their parents want to provide for them. Id take them all in if i could afford it. These people need to be left alone. They’re not hurting anyone.

  2. 26 August 2008 11:13 pm

    Richard, isn’t it obvious about all of these raids? The GOP/Bush/McSame group is catering to the huge anti-Mexican constituents, which have really formed a very powerful and vocal block, much like the born agains and Christian fundamentalists and the silent majority, oh remember them, heeheeheyhey what a fun group they were.

  3. ron permalink
    27 August 2008 12:08 pm

    one thing i would like to say is, now there are 500 new jobs that American citizens can have. number two you bash the republicans when the democraps have the house and the senate. they pass the bills and the president signs them into law.

  4. ron permalink
    27 August 2008 12:14 pm

    now that i read the other two comments , Tanya, the kids did not ask to come to America illegally no but there has to be accountability some where. these people are only taking our jobs away. that is taking them from Americans. i agree with a plan i heard about immigration. they said give the top 5 generals in mexico a 10 million dollar each retirement fund that is in the US that they cannot touch. for every illegal that comes across the border you take 10,000 from each general’s account. we would not have to put up a fence because there will be so many bodies piled up on Mexicos side. This could work.

  5. Layda permalink
    27 August 2008 3:28 pm

    Ron, thank you for caring for this country, but honestly, how big of a hassle is it to press 1 for english? I think everyone should learn more than one language. Peace! UNITED WE STAND!

  6. john hillbilly permalink
    19 January 2012 5:24 am

    500 new jobs that lazy blacks and whites could of have in the first place if theye werent lazy as fuck

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