LatinaLista — It was called Operation Tamale and ICE officials claim it was a 5-month investigation into the hiring practices of New Mexico’s tamale plant at Proper Foods, Inc.
What’s pleasantly surprising is that for the first time that we’ve heard, ICE made sure that all the 21 undocumented immigrants apprehended, as they shuffled out of the kitchens from making the tamales that will be sold by the dozens for Christmas dinners, received their full paychecks before being bused off for deportation.
Maybe it’s the season but this kind of compassion is what should be standard practice at all work-site raids before deporting undocumented workers.
Yet, precisely because it is the season, the Department of Homeland Security could do one more thing to get into the spirit of the holidays.
The raid at the tamale plant was different than what has been reported before.
Whereas it’s been reported that ICE usually sweeps in, unnecessarily intimidates people, lines them up and marches them onto a bus with little patience or mercy, this time was markedly different.
All but one of those arrested Monday were Mexican nationals. They were 10 men; 10 women, including a Honduran; and a 17-year-old boy.
ICE officials said they contacted the Mexican Consulate to reunite the boy with his family. Consulate spokeswoman Socorro Cordova said the boy would stay in the care of the federal government in JuÃ¡rez until his parents made arrangements for his returnâ€¦
ICE officials said three women were released on their own recognizance and told to appear before an immigration judge at a later date. Two men and four women were put in the El Paso immigration detention
center to await deportation.
The others were voluntarily returned to Mexico on Monday. The different treatments depend on whether the migrants had been deported before, whether they have criminal records, or whether they ask to see a judge because they have grounds to stay in the United States.
Because it is the Holiday season, the last thing ICE wants to be caricatured as is the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Maybe that explains the sudden change of heart in advocating for these workers’ wages.
Yet, with only 12 days left before Christmas, there is one thing more that the Department of Homeland Security can do to exemplify that it is in the “Spirit of the Season” â€” declare a moratorium on further raids and deportations for the month of December.
For every adult taken into custody and deported, who knows how many children are left behind?
Critics yell that these parents should take their children with them but if there is no home to go back to, no relatives who can take you in, no money to rent someplace, no clothes other than what’s on your back, then what kind of parent would rip their children from the comforts, no matter how meager, of their lives here to take them where they literally will have nothing?
To separate parents from their children, especially at Christmastime, is perhaps more cruel than any kind of trauma, aside from sexual and physical abuse, afflicted on a child.
We hope Operation Tamale is the last work-site raid for 2007.
There has been no peace for these families since immigration has become the talking point of this political campaign. Next year is reported to be even worse as more states crack down on enforcement and deportations.
Are we such a vengeful society that we can’t let these hard-working families spend the end of 2007 without feeling like they’re constantly under siege?
We are so much better than that, and it’s the perfect time to prove it.