Jackson, MS – Groups in Mississippi and nationwide are denouncing ICE’s continued targeting of workers and families who were victims of its now infamous 2019 workplace raids, and calling for the immediate release and protection of Mr. Baldomero Juarez, a father, poultry worker and labor advocate who was arrested and transferred to ICE’s LaSalle migrant prison in Jena, Louisiana last week.
“We were promised safety for workers that had experienced abuse, not more family separation. Where have all the promises gone? Se los lleva el viento, they are carried away with the wind.” said Silvia Garcia, Baldomero’s wife, mother of two children, and public health promoter for the Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity (IAJE of MS).
On April 12, Baldomero was arrested at his regular ICE check-in, and on April 14 was transferred to ICE’s LaSalle migrant prison in Louisiana. Baldomero is one of 680 workers that were arrested in ICE’s 2019 workplace raids in 2019. He and his wife Silvia fought tirelessly to reunite their family, and two years ago, after serving time for “re-entry” Baldomero had finally come home to his family in Mississippi.
ICE’s 2019 workplace raids targeted poultry plants where workers had denounced and EEOC confirmed rampant discrimination and sexual harassment. The workplace raids were largely condemned as discriminatory and in effect served to create a retaliatory chilling effect in the industry. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made clear in October 2021, when the agency declared an end to this type of enforcement, that these workplace raids “were used as a tool by exploitative employers to suppress and retaliate against workers’ assertion of labor laws.”
Yet today, many families are still separated and suffering the harms of those 2019 raids, and meanwhile, workers in the poultry industry remember the raids, and continue to suffer a myriad of workplace abuses, with the looming threat of deportation over their heads.
“In Mississippi, we know the message that ICE and Donald Trump were trying to convey to workers and families from Guatemala and Mexico with their brutal workplace raids in 2019. It was an effort to spread fear in our communities,” said Jess Manrriquez, Policy Director of IAJE of MS. “ICE’s continued targeting of these workers is a continuation of the policy of fear and intimidation of the previous administration. It provides cover for employers to abuse and exploit low-wage migrant workers.”
Multiple organizations in Mississippi and across the US have called on ICE, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and President Joe Biden to take action to reunite Baldomero and his family.
“It wasn’t enough to say ‘no more raids,’ we must ensure that DHS addresses the harms caused by its agencies, harms that continue to be exacerbated. The first step is to release Baldomero and ensure he can live and work in peace with his family in Mississippi,” said Salvador G Sarmiento of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). “We speak of essential workers, of family unity, of workplace rights, but today in Mississippi ICE is continuing the brutal legacy of its 2019 workplace raids, and it is happening on President Biden’s watch.”
Groups are also calling for Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security to engage on the matter.
“After everything we have suffered, that my children have suffered, they continue to try to punish my family. My family needs actions, not more promises. I say it for my family, and so many families that have lived this,” added Silvia.
Photo of Baldomero: