Did you see yesterday’s New York Times story? “ICE Came for a Tennessee Town’s Immigrants. The Town Fought Back.” The Times recounts in vivid detail how ICE agents stormed into Southeastern Provision, a meat-processing plant in Bean Station, TN on April 5th and arrested nearly 100 workers. It was the largest worksite raid in the U.S. in nearly 10 years.
When a raid of this scale happens in our communities, it’s like a bomb goes off. I was in Morristown the day of the raid, and for the weeks that followed. As the tragedy and chaos unfolded it was a painful reminder of why our government stopped using this egregious enforcement tactic a decade before. Mass worksite raids are deeply disruptive to local communities, leaving children stranded without their parents, terrifying entire communities, and devastating local economies.
In the aftermath of the raid, we've been organizing to turn that pain into power. We've been working with the fearless families and our partners in Morristown and across the country to fight for the 97 arrested workers and against mass deportations.
We wanted to share more about the powerful work happening on the ground in Morristown. Below are three big highlights from the work: the legal defense team has already brought 35 of the 54 detained workers home to their families, we hosted a congressional briefing in Washington D.C. on worksite raids, and we're working to transform the way U.S. born Tennesseans understand mass deportations in the wake of the Morristown raid. You can also check out our latest blog post for a more in-depth look at what's been happening in Morristown.
Thanks for all of the many ways that you’ve shown up for communities in Morristown. The fight for justice for the 97 families and for an end to workplace raids is far from over. We'll need you to keep fighting with us.
Already, 35 of the 54 people who were shipped out of state and held in immigration detention have been released on bond and are back home with their families
This is incredible and is a testament to the power of legal services rooted in community organizing. We’ve been organizing families and volunteers in Morristown, gathering critical documents and evidence, to help attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) build a robust legal defense for all workers arrested during this raid.
Watch this short documentary that shows the emotional reunion of a family whose mother was detained for weeks and just recently released on bond.
Since the bond hearings have been overwhelmingly successful, we need to raise more money to help families pay their bond and bring their loved ones home. Can you make a donation to help us raise another $10,000 in bond funds?
From Morristown to Washington D.C., families are fighting to end worksite raids
Morristown families know just how devastating raids are for our communities. That’s why they’re leading the way in fighting for an end to worksite raids. Last Thursday, three leaders from Morristown joined our national partners and members of Congress in Washington D.C. for a congressional briefing on the use of worksite raids.
Congressional staff, elected officials, and journalists heard from Yahel, a young woman who had six of her family members detained during the raid and whose husband remains in detention, Alberto, who was detained and separated from his wife and kids for six weeks, and Martha, who was arrested on the day of the raid but was released that day to care for her children and grandchildren.
These fierce leaders were joined by our legislative champions, Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (Illinois), Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (Washington), and Congressman Steve Cohen (Memphis, TN). These legislators (and 39 of their colleagues) sent a letter to DHS and the IRS demanding more information about the raid in Bean Station, accountability from the agencies involved, and justice for the 97 workers.
Putting the raid in context; turning a moment into a movement
77% of Hamblen County, where Morristown is located, voted for Donald Trump and many supported his campaign promises on immigration. But as countless journalists have witnessed, seeing the devastating reality of his “mass deportation” rhetoric is causing many to change their views.
Since the raid, we’ve been working with U.S. born Tennesseans to process what happened in their community, identify ways they can support and stand in solidarity with the impacted families, and better understand how the broader context for the raid in an era of mass deportations.
Check out The New Yorker article which captured the transformation many in Morristown experienced and highlights our work to engage U.S.-born Tennesseans in the wake of the raid to turn this impactful moment into a lasting movement.