In what’s being called one of the largest raids in recent US immigration history, ICE agents have arrested 680 workers across the state of Mississippi, mostly at Koch Foods Inc. food processing plants. Workers were ambushed by nearly 600 ICE agents, some workers attempting to flee before being seized and asked to provide documentation that proved their citizenship. Even those who had appropriate documentation were only allowed to leave after ICE officials had searched their car. The raid comes on the same day Donald Trump was scheduled to visit El Paso, the site of a fascist anti-immigrant massacre that killed over 20 people.
The Koch Foods company (not related to the Koch Brothers) has a long history of abusing workers of all kinds, specifically down racial lines. From 2009 to 2015, the company went from having four contracts in Mississippi with black farmers to having zero, with little to no explanation given to the farmers. One farmer, John Ingrum, a former sheriff who had saved a life’s wages to buy his own farm to leave to his son, lost everything in the process.
In 2012, at one of the plants raided today, the US Equal Opportunity Commission brought an employment discrimination lawsuit against Koch, citing discrimination based on race, gender, and national origin. The lawsuit asserted that workers were “subjected to touching and sexually suggestive comments, were hit, and were charged money for normal everyday work activities.” In 2018, the company paid nearly 4 million dollars to put an end to the litigation.
The Koch Foods company, which today cooperated in putting 680 people in concentration camps, has a long history of exploiting the most vulnerable working class communities to maximize profit, and it did so alongside sexist, racist, and nativist abuse. They are thus the perfect target for Trump’s agents, a company profiting off the labor of immigrant workers, but totally unwilling to raise a finger to defend them. As these 680 people, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers, are shipped away to inhumane prisons rife with sexual and physical abuse, undernourishment, a lack of basic hygiene facilities, and general degrading treatment, Koch Foods will no doubt look to hire more minimum wage workers to replace them, many of them immigrants.
Today’s raid displays all the contradictions of the fascist anti-immigrant rhetoric with which Trump has saturated our lives as workers. Those local workers who are used to fill the void created by the happy union between ICE and Koch Foods will be paid very low wages, and very likely be subject to all kinds of abuse. The fascists would have us believe that the workers enduring these conditions to support their families are enemies, that the true enemies are people shopping at at Walmart on a Saturday afternoon, that the “invasion” and destruction of the livelihood of the American worker comes from Latin America and not the board room.
Today’s events in their full context show with little doubt that fascist anti-immigrant rhetoric seeks only to sow division between workers suffering under the same conditions—low wages, abuse from middle management and bosses, and the union of corporate power and unaccountable policing entities—and the fascists do so to empower bosses and strip away basic universal rights. The fight for immigrant rights, then, is a workers struggle, a struggle against fascist separatism, and for the union between workers who do their work side by side.
Categories: U.S. News