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Immigrant rights protest condemns massive ICE raids targeting immigrant workers in Minnesota, Nebraska

By Brad Sigal |
August 11, 2018
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Protest against raids and deportations at MN Republican Party Headquarters.
Protest against raids and deportations at MN Republican Party Headquarters.

Minneapolis, MN - More than 50 people protested outside the Minnesota Republican Party headquarters in Minneapolis, Aug. 9, to condemn a massive immigration raid in southern Minnesota and Nebraska the day before, in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained around 140 immigrant workers.

Organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) on less than a day’s notice, the protest made sure that the largest military-style workplace immigration raid yet under the Trump administration did not go unchallenged.

The immigration raid was carried out by the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, which is ICE’s investigative branch. ICE simultaneously raided multiple workplaces in Nebraska and in southern Minnesota. The two Minnesota towns targeted were Sleepy Eye and Appleton. The targets were immigrant workers for Christensen Farms, which has its headquarters in Sleepy Eye and has a plant in Appleton. Incidentally, Appleton is the town where a private prison corporation and right-wing politicians want to reopen a currently-inoperative prison as an immigrant prison.

Christensen Farms is one of the largest pork producers in the United States with operations in several Midwest states. On August 8, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, “Dozens of agents in black SUVs pulled onto the company property, blocking entrances to keep people from leaving or entering,” and, “for several hours, agents interviewed every employee and checked some IDs.”

At the Minneapolis protest, speakers included Kathryn Sharpe of the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM); David Gilbert-Pederson of Minnesota Workers United and the Minnesota Regional Labor Federation; Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison; Pastor Rebecca Voelkel of the Center for Sustainable Justice; Jill Jacobson of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, and Kristin Dooley of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM). Speakers connected the struggle of immigrant workers, the labor movement, faith communities, the need for local government to enact policies to protect immigrants from the federal government’s anti-immigrant campaign, and U.S. militarism that drives forced migration.

In addition to condemning the ICE raid at Christensen Farms in Appleton and Sleepy Eye, MIRAC called for ICE to immediately release all the immigrant workers they detained, and to end all workplace immigration raids. They also called on Governor Dayton and all city and county governments in Minnesota to immediately end all coordination with ICE. Finally, they demanded an end to deportations, legalization for all, and abolishing ICE.

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