For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
March 16, 2021
Contact: Lorena, IAJE at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackson, Mississippi – A coalition of civil rights and immigrant organizations have asked President Biden to repair the harms inflicted by Donald Trump and ICE on immigrant factory workers targeted by workplace raids in August of 2019. The organizations delivered the letter below to the Biden Administration over email on March 10, 2021. The letter comes only weeks after the communities received news that one of their community members deported by Trump (Edgar Lopez) was a killed in a massacre of Guatemalan migrants in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
Read the full letter here:
Re: Repairing the harms committed by the Trump Administration against indigenous and undocumented workers in Mississippi
Dear President Biden,
The undersigned organizations join our voices in support of the Mississippi undocumented, indigenous, and immigrant working families still suffering from the ongoing harms inflicted by the Trump administration. We echo their calls to your administration to fulfill your commitment and take immediate action to repair the damage that resulted from Donald Trump’s racist and politicized raids of Mississippi factories on August 7, 2019, carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
On that day, ICE detained 680 workers from poultry factories in Mississippi in the largest workplace raid in our generation. The raids targeted factory workers who had denounced a myriad of rampant workplace abuses, including sexual harassment and discrimination, and had secured a precedent-setting court settlement. Notably the workers targeted in Trump’s raids are predominantly indigenous Maya from Guatemala. To date, hundreds of workers have been deported and many are still detained; this is all as a consequence of Trump’s weaponization of a federal agency for his political benefit.
Meanwhile, these workers are still laboring in the same factories, excluded from federal COVID relief, with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads, unable to speak out about workplace abuse or unsafe work conditions. And as you know, the poultry and meatpacking industries are already notorious for exposing their own employees to COVID.
Today the violence and the tragedy are ongoing. Just last month, we learned of the tragic murder of Edgar Lopez in northern Mexico. His body was identified as one of 18 people, primarily migrants, who were murdered and burned in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Fifteen of them were migrants from Central America. Mr. Lopez was one of the 680 workers who faced the super-exploitation we know of. He had been detained while leaving work; and then spent one year in ICE migrant prisons. Ultimately, he was deported, a result of Donald Trump’s use of federal resources to advance a racist agenda, to excite Trump’s base and to silence workers. But like so many working people targeted by Donald Trump, Edgar Lopez was much more than a target of racism, he was also a husband and a father, a working man, who has (had) a beautiful family in Carthage, Mississippi.
The violence that immigrant families in Mississippi have confronted can only happen when there have been years of dehumanization, by Trump, by ICE, but also by too many employers and government officials that turned a blind eye to constant abuse, to sexual harassment and assault, to wage theft, and even to the denial of relief – in the middle of a pandemic – while these hands literally prepare the food we all eat. There must be a point where the dehumanization stops – and we reaffirm the simple notion that all human life is essential. We implore you to govern accordingly.
President Biden, repairing these harms requires that you take specific actions that are, today, in your power. And we respectfully request that you begin with:
- Returning workers that were deported as a consequence of ICE’s August 2019 raids to their families and communities in Mississippi;
- Release those that are still detained as a result of these raids;
- Grant deferred action from deportation + work authorization for all of the workers in the factories targeted by Trump’s racist raids; and
- Pardon those who suffered convictions stemming from ICE’s raids, including for ID theft related to working, or for returning to their families.
You said you would undo the harms committed by the Trump Administration, but today many in our communities are still suffering as a result of Donald Trump’s human and labor rights violations committed against our indigenous and undocumented neighbors. Many are still detained, many were deported, and some have been tragically murdered trying to get back home to their families.
Today, immigrants across the US south continue to work in unsafe conditions, despite threats of retaliation, and are excluded from any COVID aid. President Biden, you have the power in your hands to address these harms. We hope, and we pray, that you will use it.
Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity of Mississippi (IAJE)
National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
Institute for the Study of Modern Day Slavery, Tougaloo College
Mississippi Rising Coalition
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
People’s Advocacy Institute (PAI)
And more to be added.