In mid-December, raids at six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants led to the detention and busing away of some 1300 predominantly Latino workers—the largest workplace immigration raid in U.S. history. Immigrant advocates responded to the heavy-handed enforcement actions with renewed demands for a legalization program. For others, the raids only underlined the need for even stricter workplace databasing and enforcement of laws regulating immigrants—some say through temporary guestworker programs. Meanwhile, leading senators said they would debate immigration legislation in the new Congress. Veteran labor and immigration journalist DAVID BACON explains the meaning of the raids, and the likelihood that workers’ rights will be safeguarded in any legislation.
- DAVID BACON is a former factory worker and union organizer. He is an associate editor for New America Media and a California-based photojournalist. His latest book, Communities Without Borders (Cornell University Press, 2006) documents immigrant communities, including those employed in the Swift plant in Omaha.