Re: Immigration raid cripples Ga. town
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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.