Fear from Swift plant raid resonates in Greeley six years later

Article subtitle: 
More than half a dozen cases-who opted to fight deportation are still dragging through the courts
Article author: 
Nancy Lofholm
Article publisher: 
Denver Post
Article date: 
15 January 2013
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 


Santos Gervacio Vicente-Vicente grows agitated and the words tumble out in increasingly rapid Spanish as he recalls the morning of Dec. 12, 2006.

"I still have fear," he says. "When I remember, it makes me very nervous. I was treated like an animal."

Vicente-Vicente is one of 273 workers arrested that Tuesday in Greeley in the largest immigration raid in U.S. history — and one of those continuing to deal with the fallout six years later.

Entire towns and thousands of residents — both citizens and undocumented immigrants — were affected when federal agents went to the headquarters of Swift & Co. on the north end of Greeley and five other company meatpacking plants in Texas, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. The raid swept up 1,297 undocumented workers ...

In Greeley, homes in Latino neighborhoods were seemingly abandoned as residents fled or hid in fear — some not leaving basements or closets for weeks. As many as half the desks in nearby schools sat empty because of rumors that the government would round up children next.

More than 200 children came home that day to find one or more parents gone.

Vicente-Vicente's pregnant wife and four children wouldn't know where he was for two weeks, when he finally was able to call them from a federal detention center in Texas. He was held there for three months and then returned to the detention center in Aurora, where he posted bond.

He has returned to Greeley and is seeking asylum ...

At the time of the raid, then- Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the crackdown — eight months after 1,187 illegal workers were arrested at pallet-making plants — intended to protect citizens from identity theft but also to force companies into compliance with immigration law.

"When businesses are built upon systematic violation of the law or others go to systematically violate the law in order to either bring in illegal migrants or to allow them to find jobs, that is a problem that we have to attack," he said.

Some of the Greeley workers had allegedly purchased or stolen names and Social Security numbers to get jobs with Swift.


CAIRCO Research

By Jerry Kammer, Center for Immigration Studies, March 2009

On December 12, 2006, about 1,300 illegal immigrants working at six meat processing plants owned by Swift & Co. were arrested in the largest immigration enforcement action in U.S. history -

Read more, with graphs athttp://cis.org/2006SwiftRaids