Jewschool pointed me to this eyewitness account of the proceedings for processing the Agriprocessors workers who were arrested by ICE. It’s absolutely appalling that after being subjected to the dehumanizing conditions of a large slaughterhouse, the US government continued the indignities:
Then began the saddest
procession I have ever witnessed, which the public would never see, because cameras were not
allowed past the perimeter of the compound (only a few journalists came to court the following
days, notepad in hand). Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and
ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the slaughterhouse workers were brought in for
arraignment, sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before
marching out again to be bused to different county jails, only to make room for the next row of
10. They appeared to be uniformly no more than 5 ft. tall, mostly illiterate Guatemalan peasants
with Mayan last names, some being relatives (various Tajtaj, Xicay, Sajché, Sologüí…), some in
tears; others with faces of worry, fear, and embarrassment. They all spoke Spanish, a few rather
According to the author, many of these people involved waived their right to a hearing by grand jury, hoping for a simple immigration proceeding in order to get back to supporting their families, but that was not to be, as the charges were laid out: “aggravated identity theft” and “Social Security fraud”. I suppose if we’re going to deport them, we might as well let them sit in prison first, right?
The author then breaks down, briefly, the demographics involved here:
Of Agriprocessors’ 968 current employees, about 75% were illegal immigrants. There
were 697 arrest warrants, but late-shift workers had not arrived, so “only” 390 were arrested: 314
men and 76 women; 290 Guatemalans, 93 Mexicans, four Ukrainians, and three Israelis who
were not seen in court. Some were released on humanitarian grounds: 56 mostly mothers with
unattended children, a few with medical reasons, and 12 juveniles were temporarily released
with ankle monitors or directly turned over for deportation. In all, 306 were held for prosecution.
Essentially, of the 390 people arrested, 98.2% were from Latin America; 75% Guatemalan, and 23.2% (give or take, I rounded) Mexican, at least of those arrested. It’s more than likely that race played a major role in the prosecution of this raid, the largest in US history.
I can’t possibly do any more justice to the article, it really speaks for itself, but it is shameful that the US government would treat human beings this way – and yes, I know that this happens all time, unfortunately sometimes even in Canada, but it’s just unconscionable and highlights just how unjust life is for a lot of people.
In the article, one of the men being tried walked to the States from Guatemala – he walked from Guatemala, through Mexico just to work at a slaughterhouse where his supervisors might have beaten him with a meathook while a learned and pious official tried to determine whether the meat was killed according to halakhah.
Meanwhile, maybe, he had a kid who, by virtue of being born on American soil, would get to stay after the raid when they either deported this man or made him wait in prison without the possibility of bail for 6-8 months if he plead not guilty to “Social Security fraud”. After which he’d be deported anyway, likely. And this, this, is justice? If this isn’t a Jewish issue, what is?
All I know is, if this is how the US is prosecuting the Agriprocessors workers, I’d hope for far more harsh punishments for the supervisors and employers.
Filed under: solidarity |