Yet, the two towns might as well be on opposite sides of the world for all the attention Democrats want to show the immigration issue during their convention.
And that’s not just sad news for the over 500 people who have been detained in this latest raid but for all whose hopes rest with the one party that has actually shown the political will to address the hard issues that afflict the broader Latino community.
Email alerts circulated at lightning speeds yesterday detailing how a repeat of the Postville, Iowa raid was playing out in Laurel, Mississippi, a sleepy Gulf Coast town of 18,000 people.
Like a recurring nightmare, the same scene played out â€” only in a different locale and different victims.
Bill Chandler, director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, based in Jackson, Mississippi, told Latina Lista that his organization had heard rumors for weeks that this was going to happen in their area. So he and his staff conducted a systematic educational campaign canvassing neighborhoods, laundry mats and other places where immigrant workers gather with friends and family to enjoy their off-time from work, to educate them about their rights.
Mr. Chandler said that it was expected that the poultry plants in the region would be hit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. No one suspected Howard Industries (HI), a maker of electrical transformers was the target.
Yet, yesterday morning, Chandler said he received reports that ICE officials entered the HI plant and immediately separated the Latino workers from Anglos and African Americans. Then each Latino was interrogated to determine their citizenship status.
The result is that a crisis has erupted in the community said Chandler.
As a result of the raid, 150 children were initially affected said Chandler. Some had both parents who were taken into custody. Some parents, because of their children, have been released on the condition they must wear ankle monitoring bracelets.
That’s expected but what is not acceptable is to confine these people, as is being done in Postville, Iowa, to their homes without letting them be able to earn any kind of income to buy their family food or pay their bills.
Since the U.S. government is not subsidizing the keep of these newly detained families, and by virtue of these immigrants’ work history and clean criminal history, coupled with the fact that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants do not take advantage of social welfare services, these people are being subjected to the most punitive measures the government has resorted to in driving undocumented immigrants out of the country â€” starving them in their own homes. A kind of “humanitarian torture.”
One has to wonder if it’s any coincidence that the raid has happened on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Perhaps, the government was hoping that all attention would be so focused on Denver that no one would notice what was happening in Laurel, Mississippi.
Yet, when it comes to mass human suffering within our own borders, there’s no distraction large enough to cloak it.