Immigration Raids: Harbinger of a Police State?

It's telling that last week's mass immigration raid in Iowa, during which immigrant workers were rounded up and treated like cattle, was heralded by the whupping of federal helicopters hovering over the town and its meat-processing plant.


One of its warning signs was that the feds showed up a week before and blackened out the windows of the Cattle Congress facility to prepare it for holding large numbers of detainees.


As one of the locals put it:



"What's that all about? You know, what does that sound like? That's just creepy, just things that seem really unAmerican, that seem on the down low," Howard says. "No one should be treated this way. These aren't drug runners. They're not terrorists." Howard calls the raid "political maneuvering" to show people the Bush Administration is doing something on illegal immigration.

As Joshua Holland at AlterNet suggests, the feds' behavior throughout, while "professional" enough, has raised the specter of law enforcement that is all about keeping workers in a state of fear, and leaving the employers who are manipulating them completely unscathed.

According to the Associated Press, an attorney who interviewed some of those swept up in the raid said that the company itself "obtained false identification for immigrant workers." But in the overwhelming majority of these raids -- 98 percent, according to the Washington Post -- the only people to pay any penalty are poor people trying to earn a substandard wage working in America's growing unregulated economy. Meanwhile, ICE charged many of the detained with "identity theft" for those faked papers, effectively giving immigration hard-liners what Congress hasn't granted them through the legislative process: serious criminal charges for what have always been misdemeanor immigration violations at most.

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