Dec. 12 is a day to celebrate the birth of the Virgin de Guadalupe. It is a holy day. Yet, for many Latin Catholics in Greeley, it has become one of fear and sadness.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency raided six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in six different states. The raid at the Greeley Swift & Co. plant, on Dec. 12, 2006, resulted in the arrest of over 250 undocumented workers, which left wives and children behind without husbands and fathers, most of whom were the sole supporters of the family, according to The Greeley Tribune.
CSU hosted a panel discussion for Cesar Chavez week Thursday titled “Immigration: Impacts of Current Legislation,” which highlighted the affects of the raid, alongside many other immigration issues facing Colorado.
“The families, now when they say goodbye for the day, don’t know if they will see each other later, they don’t know if they will be deported or not,” said panel member and Latinos Unidos member Francisco Granado. “It is an experience they live with every day.”
Latinos Unidos was formed in November for the purpose of opposing the ICE office in Greeley, according to Granado.
“We have to be aware of these people who need to go to work every day in order to provide for their families,” he said. “There needs to be an immigration program that’s well thought of. We need to think of keeping families together.”
Last July, Colorado passed House Bill 1023, which requires thousands of Coloradans to prove that they are legal citizens of the United States before receiving benefits such as in-state tuition and unemployment benefits. The bill is considered the toughest anti-illegal-immigration law in the country, according to the Rocky Mountain News.
Yet, according to panel member and CSU professor Norberto Valdez, tougher laws don’t necessarily solve the problem.
“If we don’t find the causes of the problem, we will never find a solution,” he said. “This involves social justice and human rights. We need to research the causal factors of immigration.”
Valdez also expressed his concern that many people believe that if someone supports immigration, it means he or she believes in completely open borders.
“We are not advocates of open borders,” he said. “We are advocates of social justice.”
Panel member and Fuerza Latina, or Latin Force, member Javier Castillo agrees that open borders is not the best solution to the immigration debate.
“It is a matter of fair and just immigration reform that treats people as human beings, yet supports our sovereignty,” he said.
Fuerza Latina is an organization of immigrants whose goal is to improve the quality of life for other immigrants in this community, according to Castillo. Fuerza Latina has been a dominant force in aiding the families impacted by the Swift & Co. raid, he said.
“Immigration policy has to be well-thought out and cannot be a product of political expediency,” Valdez said. ” We have to be clear about why people leave their home to come here.”
And people come here, according to Valdez, because the United States is invading their home.
“We are a country that creates laws and then unitarily breaks them,” he said.
We need to challenge immigration policy in the United States and take responsibility for our education, Valdez said.
“That way, we don’t stay in bed with the enemy.”
Jessi Stafford can be reached at email@example.com.