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Re: Immigration raid cripples Ga. town

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  • Ram Lau
    America used to welcome immigrants, and America was once great. This is what Ken Gralbraith said to Brian Lamb on Booknotes back in 1994: GALBRAITH: I must
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 16 7:53 AM
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      America used to welcome immigrants, and America was once great. This
      is what Ken Gralbraith said to Brian Lamb on Booknotes back in 1994:

      "GALBRAITH: I must tell you that in 1934, the second year of the New
      Deal, I was on my way from California to Harvard, and there were
      several months intervening. I stopped to see one of my old professors
      who had a high position in Washington. There was a desperate need for
      economists. That was the most wonderful thing about the New Deal, the
      shortage of economists. He put me on the payroll to make a study of
      some problems of land ownership. It was quite a good job. It paid off
      my college debts. In those days, I was not asked whether I were a
      citizen or not, which I wasn't. There was nothing in the Civil Service
      forms, but I did have to go to the top floor of the Department of
      Agriculture and affirm that I was a Democrat. That was required, but
      not the matter of citizenship."

      The complete transcript is here:



      --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
      > http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060915/ap_on_re_us/immigration_aftermath
      > Immigration raid cripples Ga. town
      > By RUSS BYNUM, Associated Press Writer Fri Sep 15,
      > 2:13 PM ET
      > STILLMORE, Ga. - Trailer parks lie abandoned. The
      > poultry plant is scrambling to replace more than half
      > its workforce. Business has dried up at stores where
      > Mexican laborers once lined up to buy food, beer and
      > cigarettes just weeks ago.
      > This Georgia community of about 1,000 people has
      > become little more than a ghost town since Sept. 1,
      > when federal agents began rounding up illegal
      > immigrants.
      > The sweep has had the unintended effect of
      > underscoring just how vital the illegal immigrants
      > were to the local economy.
      > More than 120 illegal immigrants have been loaded onto
      > buses bound for immigration courts in Atlanta, 189
      > miles away. Hundreds more fled Emanuel County.
      > Residents say many scattered into the woods, camping
      > out for days. They worry some are still hiding without
      > food.
      > At least one child, born a U.S. citizen, was left
      > behind by his Mexican parents: 2-year-old Victor
      > Perez-Lopez. The toddler's mother, Rosa Lopez, left
      > her son with Julie Rodas when the raids began and fled
      > the state. The boy's father was deported to Mexico.
      > "When his momma brought this baby here and left him,
      > tears rolled down her face and mine too," Rodas said.
      > "She said, `Julie, will you please take care of my son
      > because I have no money, no way of paying rent?'"
      > For five years, Rodas has made a living watching the
      > children of workers at the Crider Inc. poultry plant,
      > where the vast majority of employees were Mexican
      > immigrants. She learned Spanish, and considered many
      > immigrants among her closest friends. She threw
      > parties for their children's birthdays and baptisms.
      > The only child in Rodas' care now, besides her own
      > son, is Victor. Her customers have disappeared.
      > Federal agents also swarmed into a trailer park
      > operated by David Robinson. Illegal immigrants were
      > handcuffed and taken away. Almost none have returned.
      > Robinson bought an American flag and posted it by the
      > pond out front — upside down, in protest.
      > "These people might not have American rights, but
      > they've damn sure got human rights," Robinson said.
      > "There ain't no reason to treat them like animals."
      > The raids came during a fall election season in which
      > immigration is a top issue.
      > Last month, the federal government reported that
      > Georgia had the fastest-growing illegal immigrant
      > population in the country. The number more than
      > doubled from an estimated 220,000 in 2000 to 470,000
      > last year. This year, state lawmakers passed some of
      > the nation's toughest measures targeting illegal
      > immigrants, and Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue last week
      > vowed a statewide crackdown on document fraud.
      > Other than the Crider plant, there isn't much in
      > Stillmore. Four small stores, a coin laundry and a
      > Baptist church share downtown with City Hall, the fire
      > department and a post office. "We're poor but proud,"
      > Mayor Marilyn Slater said, as if that is the town
      > motto.
      > The 2000 Census put Stillmore's population at 730, but
      > Slater said uncounted immigrants probably made it more
      > than 1,000. Not anymore, with so many homes abandoned
      > and the streets practically empty.
      > "This reminds me of what I read about Nazi Germany,
      > the Gestapo coming in and yanking people up," Slater
      > said.
      > Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Marc
      > Raimondi would not discuss details of the raids. "We
      > can't lose sight of the fact that these people were
      > here illegally," Raimondi said.
      > At Sucursal Salina No. 2, a store stocked with Mexican
      > fruit sodas and snacks, cashier Alberto Gonzalez said
      > Wednesday that the owner may shutter the place. By
      > midday, Gonzalez has had only six customers. Normally,
      > he would see 100.
      > The B&S convenience store, owned by Keith and Regan
      > Slater, the mayor's son and grandson, has lost about
      > 80 percent of its business.
      > "These people come over here to make a better way of
      > life, not to blow us up," complained Keith Slater, who
      > keeps a portrait of Ronald Reagan on the wall. "I'm a
      > die-hard Republican, but I think we missed the boat
      > with this one."
      > Since the mid-1990s, Stillmore has grown dependent on
      > the paychecks of Mexican workers who originally came
      > for seasonal farm labor, picking the area's famous
      > Vidalia onions. Many then took year-round jobs at the
      > Crider plant, with a workforce of about 900.
      > Crider President David Purtle said the agents began
      > inspecting the company's employment records in May.
      > They found 700 suspected illegal immigrants, and
      > supervisors handed out letters over the summer
      > ordering them to prove they came to the U.S. legally
      > or be fired. Only about 100 kept their jobs.
      > The arrests started at the plant Sept. 1. Over the
      > Labor Day weekend, agents with guns and bulletproof
      > vests converged on workers' homes after getting the
      > addresses from Crider's files.
      > Antonio Lopez, who came here two years ago from
      > Chiapas, Mexico, and worked at the Crider plant, said
      > agents kicked in his front door. Lopez, 32, and his
      > 15-year-old son were handcuffed and taken by bus to
      > Atlanta with 30 others. Because of the boy, Lopez
      > said, both were allowed to return. In his back pocket,
      > he carries an order to return to Atlanta for a court
      > hearing Feb. 2.
      > But now, "there's no people here and I don't have any
      > work," he said.
      > The poultry plant has limped along with half its
      > normal workforce. Crider increased its starting wages
      > by $1 an hour to help recruit new workers.
      > Stacie Bell, 23, started work canning chicken at
      > Crider a week ago. She said the pay, $7.75 an hour,
      > led her to leave her $5.60-an-hour job as a Wal-Mart
      > cashier in nearby Statesboro. Still, Bell said she
      > felt bad about the raids.
      > "If they knew eventually that they were going to have
      > to do that, they should have never let them come over
      > here," she said.
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