Union sues to stop immigration raids
OMAHA, Neb. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union was planning to file a class-action suit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday, seeking an injunction to stop federal officials from conducting what the union calls illegal workplace raids.The lawsuit to be filed Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, alleges that federal officials unlawfully detained workers and violated their constitutional rights during raids of six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in December.ICE officials investigating identity theft arrested more than 1,200 workers at the plants, but union officials have said more than 12,000 workers were detained during the operation. The plants raided were in Cactus, Texas; Grand Island, Neb.; Greeley, Colo.; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minn.People were detained against their will who did nothing wrong except show up and go to work, said Mark Lauritsen, director of the unions food processing, packing and manufacturing division.These folks go to work and then one day our government just detains them and starts interrogating them about their condition of life and their place in life that alone is a degradation that our government should not be allowed to get involved in, Lauritsen said.Union president Joseph Hansen planned to formally announce the lawsuit at a news conference Wednesday in Washington, but a draft of the lawsuit was provided to The Associated Press on Tuesday.The suit names Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, both agencies and anonymous federal agents who conducted the Swift raids.From what weve heard from the complaints, they are baseless, said ICE spokesman Tim Counts on Tuesday.Counts said all the workers were given full access to due process under the law and none had his or her rights violated.In addition to stopping the raids, the suit seeks incidental damages for workers who say their rights were violated, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act and the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.Brazilian firm JBS S.A. acquired Swift from a private equity firm for about $1.5 billion in July. The purchase made the company the worlds largest beef processor.
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