ICE agents brandishing guns detain RWDSU members—Who is next?

Stuart Appelbaum | 7/12/2018, 12:39 p.m.

For RWDSU members, the real-world effects of the Trump administration’s almost incomprehensibly cruel focus came into startling view June 20. At a time when the world was voicing outrage about families being separated at the southern U.S. border, another shocking miscarriage of justice occurred further north in Ohio. At a Fresh Mark meat processing plant, 146 hard-working RWDSU members were detained and separated from their families during a raid by gun-toting ICE agents.

During what had been a normal workday, workers suddenly found themselves violently shoved to the ground and handcuffed in an egregious, disturbing show of force. Witnesses likened it to a terrorist attack.

More than 100 children in the community suddenly found out a parent wasn’t coming home. A group of 146 workers who pay their taxes, put in an honest day’s work and contribute to their communities did not go home that night.

And for what?

The community, and the country, is zero percent safer. A busy meat processing plant has suddenly lost a large portion of its reliable workforce and production has been severely disrupted. Families have been torn apart to the detriment of the community. The Trump administration has pointlessly created a humanitarian and possibly economic crisis in Ohio.

Our union, the RWDSU, is stepping up to help RWDSU members and their families. A task force, including lawyers and worker representatives, was immediately dispatched to Ohio to defend the workers and help aid families with basic necessities, including food, diapers and simply connecting frightened children and spouses with their detained loved ones, many of whom still have not been located. 

Although our immediate focus is on the events in Ohio, it’s clear that this raid and the other events of the past weeks and months raise many troubling issues. With President Trump calling for the illegal, unconstitutional action of deporting immigrants without their due-process rights, who is next? It could be your neighbors, or even your family members.

It’s striking to see these troubling events occur so close to the July Fourth holiday. That is not what America—a land of opportunity that is based on principles of justice and equality—is all about.

America has always been about the promise that hard work and honest living can bring people—both those born here and those who immigrated—better lives. The U.S. needs to create a path to citizenship for workers who have been contributing to our economy for decades, and to the hundreds of thousands of Temporary Status holders who will soon be living in the shadows because Congress and Trump have failed to act on their behalf. Our country doesn’t need more foreign workers coming in with special guest worker visas that condone substandard working conditions. We need to give those already in this country an opportunity to change their status and officially become what many will say they already are: Americans.

You can help the Ohio workers by visiting www.rwdsu.org and donating to the RWDSU Ohio Workers Defense Fund. All of the proceeds will go toward supporting families affected by this tragic and unnecessary raid.