On February 24th, in Bellingham, WA an engine remanufacturing plant was raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. 28 undocumented workers were arrested. Janet Napolitano has since called for an investigation into the raid and it has become clear that ICE conducted the action without the knowledge or consent of the new Secretary. Regardless of the many political implications of the raid, the hard reality is that a community has been ripped apart and local organizations and community members are left to pick up the pieces.
Our partners at OneAmerica have been doing great work, along with local community groups in the Bellingham area.
Local groups, Community to Community Development and the Whatcom Community Foundation have set up a special fund called Los Niños Bellingham to solicit donations from individuals or foundations to help provide support for rent, food, clothing and other essential and basic needs of the families who have been affected. To donate, click here.
These groups will also be holding a fundraiser during today’s Cesar Chavez day at the Oregon State Capitol.
In other encouraging news, last week, the remaining 13 detainees who were still in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, were released without having to pay bond. This is a wonderful result and extremely unusual. The detainees have been reunited with their families, but OneAmerica is not yet clear about how long they will be able to stay in the country or what is expected in return for their freedom. There are concerns over y reports from family members who have been receiving phone calls and visits from ICE officers to their homes.
The day after the release of the remaining detainees, OneAmerica met with U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and at least 10 of the individuals who were detained during the raid. Detainees discussed their tremendous pain and suffering; many have lost their apartments and homes, do not have enough money to feed their children and have children or parents who are legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens and do not know what their future holds. Rep. Larsen re-committed himself to comprehensive immigration reform, recognizing that these workers should not be punished for working, and stressing the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
We are proud of the great work being done by OneAmerica and their local partners on the ground in Washington.