Wednesday, February 25, 2009



It’s not over yet. Things were looking up, no worksite immigration raids since Obama’s election, until yesterday. In Bellingham, WA, 28 workers were arrested in an immigration raid at a remanufacturing plant and deportation proceedings have begun. (read full story:

Now more than ever is the time to make our voices heard in calling for an end to immigration raids and in favor of passing humane, federal, comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration officials raid Bellingham plant

Immigration officers today raided an engine remanufacturing plant in Bellingham, arrested 28 illegal immigrant workers and began processing them for deportation.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Immigration officers today raided an engine remanufacturing plant in Bellingham, arrested 28 illegal immigrant workers and began processing them for deportation.

The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham.

ICE officials say the 25 men and three women — most of them from Mexico — may have gained employment at Yamato using phony social security numbers and other counterfeit identity documents.

Yamato officials, who said they had been cooperating with ICE since last fall when investigators began looking at employment documents, were shocked by today's raid.

In fact, three of the workers arrested today had been cleared as having legitimate documents during an employment records audit by ICE in 2005, said Yamato spokeswoman Shirin Dhanani Makalai.

We have been audited before so we do due diligence to get the proper paperwork," Makalai said. "People bring you paperwork that by law you are required to accept. You can't always tell if it's not correct."

With about 100 workers, Yamato specializes in rebuilding Japanese car engines and transmissions.

ICE investigators began looking into its employment records following the arrest of a criminal illegal immigrant who had previously worked there.

After being processed earlier today, officials released three of the immigrants on humanitarian grounds. The others are being held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

"The lure of jobs in the United States continues to be one of the primary factors fueling illegal immigration," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Seattle.

"ICE remains committed to investigating cases where the evidence shows employment laws are being violated."

Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or

Upcoming Community Wide Events

Upcoming Events:

*NEXT IRLT MEETING, Tuesday, March 3 from 6-8pm at Macalester College, Old Main Building Room 003*

· Premier screening of Welcome the Stranger

A film by Steve Date and Jewish Community Action about Postville

Wednesday, March 11 @ 8:15PM at the Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival (Sabes JCC) in Minneapolis

On May 12, 2008, approximately 900 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) agents entered the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in the small town of Postville, Iowa and arrested nearly 400 workers. Instead of charging the undocumented workers with immigration violations, for the first time, many were charged with felonies and sentenced to 5 month prison terms plus deportation. On July 27, 2008 Jewish Community Action, along with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago) and St. Bridget Catholic Church (Postville), led a rally in Postville calling for immigrant and worker rights, in solidarity with those affected by the immigration raid.

Welcome the Stranger, a film currently in production by MinnPost video journalist Steve Date and Jewish Community Action takes you to the rally in Postville to see and hear Rabbis, Christian clergy, workers and their families come together in support of worker and immigrant rights.

To order tickets:, FFI:

· Jewish Community Action’s 7th Annual Immigrant Rights Freedom Seder

Sunday, March 22 doors @ 2PM, event starts promptly at 3PM at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul

$5-$10 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds, light Seder food will be provided, families and all ages welcome

Passover is a time when we celebrate our freedom from bondage, remember when we were strangers in a strange land, and connect our history to modern-day liberation struggles. Our Immigrant Rights Freedom Seder brings together people from diverse backgrounds to share the story of Passover and its message of freedom. This year the theme is immigrant rights and worker justice. We will highlight two campaigns: Progress by Pesach, the Jewish call for an end to immigration raids and Hekhsher Tzedek, a consumer effort to improve the working conditions in the kosher food industry.

Please RSVP by March 12th:, 651.632.2184

Updates from the Field

Campaign Update:

· There are 2 more co-signers to the campaign, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Justice (JALSA) and Women of Reform Judaism, bringing the total up to 20 Jewish organizations!

· We’ve collected over 1,000 signatures, but we still need at least 9,000 more in the next 5 weeks to make our goal.

5 Easy Things You Can Do...

Be a Part of the Action:

1. Attend the next IRLT meeting on Tuesday, March 3 at Macalester College from 6-8:00PM, ffi:

2. Host Progress by Pesach House Parties for friends, family and neighbors - we'll help you create a great event!

3. Send the petitions and letter around to everyone you know, you can even print a paper copy and take it with you at:

4. Help with phone banking for signatures, just call us for a date/time 651.632.2184

5. Gather a group and hit the streets with petitions, we will help you with materials and location/date suggestions, call 651.632.2184 for more info