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Raids in Pacific Northwest Detain Dreamers, Terrify Community, Disrupt Local Businesses

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A three-day series of ICE raids across the Pacific Northwest (including Oregon, Washington, and Alaska) resulted in the arrest and detention of 84 immigrants, according to an ICE press release yesterday.

ICE raids now indiscriminate

A third of those arrested had no criminal record whatsoever, lending evidence to what immigration advocates all over the country are seeing: indiscriminate detention and deportation of anyone who gets caught in ICE’s dragnet. In ICE’s terms, mothers, fathers, and neighbors who are in the wrong place at the wrong time are deemed “collateral.”

Mat does Santos, the legal director for the ACLU of Oregon, recently told the Guardian that stepped-up deportations are “part of a larger shift“:

It used to be you were only subject to deportation if you fell under a priority [such as having committed a crime], but now if you just happen to be nearby when one of these enforcement actions happen, you could also be subject to detention and deportation.

Dreamers arrested

Among those arrested in the recent raids were at least three Dreamers:

  • Emannuel Ayala Frutos, 21, who was in the process of renewing his DACA paperwork, which had expired two weeks earlier
  • Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez, 25, who was released on Monday
  • Alejandra Ruiz-Matias, who has been in the US since she was 1 year old and was detained over a deportation order from 1988 that she says she didn’t know about

Businesses and industries affected

The raids are terrifying local immigrant communities, with the Guardian reporting that “people are paranoid walking around the streets” and that traffic to local businesses has nosedived. Industries, too, are worried about what will happen to their businesses if immigrant workers are detained or too afraid to come to work. In Oregon:

Last month, Ice officials detained a nursery worker on his way to work about an hour up the road from Woodburn. The owner of the nursery said he has yet to find someone else willing to do the job.

Jeff Stone, the executive director of Oregon Associations of Nurseries, said: “There is a labor shortage already and a pretty significant one. We have members who have finally bounced back after the economic tumult … sales are back, but they are having difficulty on the production side because of the lack of labor.”

The nursery industry – including the people who plant the rhododendrons, harvest the hops and cut the Christmas trees – is the state’s second largest agricultural sector, behind cattle, with sales topping $890m in 2015, Stone said.

Many of the nursery owners, whom Stone represents, backed Donald Trump for president, he said. They are hoping for comprehensive immigration reform but don’t believe the enforcement-only approach will work.

“There aren’t people knocking on the door to [help harvest] Christmas trees in 42-degree weather,” Stone said.

And in Washington:

For better or for worse, many of Pacific County’s seafood operations, cranberry farms and tourist establishments rely on low-wage immigrant laborers, many of whom are “illegal,” so many industry leaders fear repercussions too much to talk openly.

“It’s such a touchy subject,” said one port employee who declined to comment on the record, citing fears that any comments about ICE raids in the port could be taken as evidence that port officials were harboring undocumented workers.

“Oyster companies — every one of them have reported since the new [presidential] administration that they have had people taken,” Patten said. Some company owners are truly concerned about their workers, he added, especially at smaller operations where long-time employees feel “like family.”

They’re also distressed about losing workers with special knowledge and skills, Patten said, and some have told him that replacement temp agency laborers often aren’t up to even lower-level jobs.

“They say at the end of the day, they have shucked about two gallons of oysters — that’s about an hour of work [for an experienced worker],” Patten said.

Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, Oregon has publicly opposed the raids, saying in a statement:

This arrest does nothing to promote public safety. Instead, actions like this only serve to tear apart our community and needlessly alter the lives of our residents. The city had no role in this arrest and I am against it.