America's Voice En Español »
Updated: June 21, 2018
Ohioans are outraged at the military-style immigration raid carried out by federal immigration agents at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center and Fresh Mark meat processing plants. Following are quotes from leaders denouncing the raids and expressing concern for the futures of affected workers, children, families, as well as our values as a country.
Tearing families apart will not fix our broken immigration system. It will mean more problems for all of us. There is no good reason, ever, to separate children from their parents. I don’t want to be the kind of country where federal agents split families up and send kids who knows where without being able to account for them.
After years of divisive GOP rhetoric and inaction on real immigration reform, families in Ohio are now being torn apart. The House GOP needs to get out of the way so we can help people and bring stability to the chaotic, inhumane system that exploits workers.
Reports suggest the raid was carried out in an unnecessarily aggressive and disruptive manner that subsequently traumatized an entire community. I write today to seek assurances that none of the detained individuals will be deported without full due process, including access to an attorney, in immigration court. These detained workers, irrespective of where they have come from, what their names are, or what language they speak, deserve a fair and open process. There should be no exceptions.
Furthermore, the people being detained are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. It is unconscionable to simply rip these people away from their children and families who may depend on them for survival. They have adapted to American culture and have contributed to the betterment of our country and economy in a variety of ways.
Stephanie Howse, Ohio State Representative, House District 11
Ohio, is one of the least culturally and racially diverse states in our country. Creating fear and tearing families apart will only keep people away from our state and hinder our ability to grow.
In the land of immigrants, willfully and forced, the United States has to find a respectable and dignified pathway to welcome our global brothers and sisters.
There are families who are left picking up the pieces of what took place in Sandusky. These families’ primary care givers have been taken without any word or understanding as to where their loved ones have been taken.
The greenhouse was raided with an army. The officers came in with guns and air support. You would think they were arresting some notorious gang bangers, drug dealers or rapists. The reality is they went in after hardworking, honest people who have families to provide for. These people were working hard doing the jobs no one else wanted to do. They deserve better.
This surprise blitz by government agents on the agricultural businesses in Sandusky and Castalia to arrest workers is an unjust and deplorable action that has created the avoidable separation of families, including many with young children.
This large scale workplace immigration raid has left children stranded without their parents and disrupted the local communities of Erie County. The effects are going to be felt for years to come. Children are wondering if they will ever see their loved ones again.
These are people who are trying to work in this county and pose no threat to American security.
What happened in Erie County flies in the face of everything we’ve stood for in northwest Ohio.
From a law enforcement standpoint, it did not have to be done. These people were not threatening anyone’s national security. It was nothing more than political theater. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement chose to go after easy pickings. They chose to hurt people who were not causing harm to anybody else.
It’s more reminiscent of a different time in a different continent. That should give us pause.
Very Reverend Monsignor Robert J. Siffrin, Vicar General, Diocese of Youngstown
The Catholic Church in the United States is an immigrant Church with a long history of embracing diverse newcomers and providing assistance and pastoral care to immigrants. Our Church has responded to Christ’s call for us to “welcome the stranger among us,” for in this encounter with the immigrant, the migrant, and the refugee in our midst, we encounter Christ. The Catholic Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education, and social services, especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances. (Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, A Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishop)
The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. When family separation takes place at the border, or as a result of sudden and unannounced raids in our local communities, the Church decries the terrible impact on vulnerable and innocent children and families.
Catholic Charities will be working with local churches and organizations responding to meet the needs of those affected, offering pastoral and practical care. Please join us in praying for the families affected and for just immigration reform.
Respecting the role of government and law enforcement, we recognize our current immigration policies are broken and are actively contributing to the suffering and separation of vulnerable families, as evidenced in the most recent large-scale immigration action at Flower and Garden Centers in Sandusky, Ohio. No matter our political persuasion, when families are broken apart, as in this raid, we should all recognize that the common good is not served.
Acknowledging the role of our government in enforcing current immigration law, I feel a great sadness for the families whose lives have been disrupted following the large-scale immigration action on June 5 at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in Erie County in north central Ohio. I offer my prayers, and ask the prayers of all people of good will, that the families affected will not be separated in the days and weeks to follow….
This latest event in Erie County again makes clear that our current immigration system contributes to the human suffering of migrants and the separation of families. The bishops of the Catholic Church have a duty to point out the moral consequences of a broken system. The Church is advocating for comprehensive and compassionate reform of our immigration system so that persons are able to obtain legal status in our country and enter the United States legally to work and support their families. Since this is a responsibility of our Congress, I would encourage you to speak with your legislators advocating for reform of our present system. We do this remembering the words of Jesus as he calls upon us to “welcome the stranger,” for “what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me.” (Mt: 25-35, 40)
These children do not know where their parents are. That’s trauma.
As I watched first hand the heinous ICE raid of the Fresh Mark plants last night, I was appalled. The tactic from ICE was inhumane and was used to incite confusion, panic, and fear. This fear is the same fear that erodes our compassion as a people and is a forfeiture of our very humanity. We can no longer as a people exploit the suffering of the vulnerable to prop up our own privilege and affluence.
I raise my voice along with many clergy of different faiths and denominations to speak out strongly against the recent raids by ICE in Sandusky, Ohio. What a complete violation of our communal and religious values. Our country needs reasonable immigration policy reform, something Congress has failed to do for a generation. Victimizing hard-working people in our communities, no matter their immigration status, tears apart the social fabric of our society and is a terrible waste of public resources.
As an Imam and a parent, I believe rounding up and deporting our neighbors, students, coworkers, friends, and family is a great injustice. Although people can be given labels such as ‘alien,’ ‘undocumented,’ and ‘illegal,’ people of faith know that immigrants — regardless of their legal status — are individuals deeply loved by God and created in God’s Divine image. Let’s love and not deport
As a Sister of Mercy dedicated to serving God’s people, especially those on the margins, I speak out for the dignity of our brothers and sisters arrested in the raids. I ask that we devote our energy and resources to welcoming and valuing our immigrant neighbors
As a pastor in the Christian tradition, I believe the values of protecting and supporting children, working hard to provide for your family, and serving your community are key expressions of the way of Jesus. ICE’s aggressive, cruel raids and detentions directly contradict these values. As a result of yesterday’s actions, hundreds of children are left endangered and traumatized. Communities that have relied on the labor of these workers will be diminished. A more humane and just system must be born so that all people may live a life free of fear where they can live in dignity.
Rev. Dan Clark, Ohio Director, Faith in Public Life
Providing for our families and loved ones is what gets us out of bed in the morning. That sense of love, responsibility and purpose is central to who we are. But 114 men and women who went to work in Sandusky Tuesday morning so they could put food on the table never made it home. ICE agents raided their workplace, rounded them up, and snatched them away. Infants and toddlers stranded with babysitters are crying out. Children are trembling and panicking. Families are rushing to churches, desperate to figure out what to do. Pastors, neighbors and immigration advocates are scrambling to help. Is this the kind of nation we want to be? A place where ICE agents make children orphans and destroy entire communities so politicians can brag like they’re tough? That’s not just cruel, it’s cowardly. Every passing day brings new trauma to children who want to be back in their mother’s and father’s arms. It doesn’t have to be this way. We must each do everything we can for these shattered families. This is a time for prayer, and a time for action. Call Sen. Portman now, tell him to do everything in his power to make the Trump administration free these workers and put families back together right now. Then call him again tomorrow. We have to be better than this.
Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns and Development, Franciscan Action Network
As a native Northwest Ohioan and a person of faith, I’m horrified by what happened at Corsco’s. As a nation of immigrants, we are called to be empathetic and compassionate to all people who are in our country. We should not be tearing apart families and leaving children without their parents. Many people coming from Mexico and Central America are seeking asylum after having faced violence in their home country. Reports indicate that ICE agents tried to lure workers with donuts. This is sickening, cruel, and heartless. We should be better than that as a nation. Unfortunately right now we are not. And for that we will be judged.
Marc Perrone, President, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)
Tearing hard-working men and women apart from their children, families, and communities is wrong. The people who do these incredibly difficult jobs have the right to due process, and to be treated with respect and fairness. Today’s actions will only drive this nation further apart, while also spreading unmistakable pain among neighbors, friends, coworkers, and loved ones.
Our top priority is to provide whatever assistance and counsel we can to any of our impacted members and their families. The broken policies that led to these and other workplace raids must be addressed immediately. They are creating a climate of fear where workers across this country are too afraid to stand up for their rights, report wage theft, dangerous work conditions, and other workplace issues.
We urge President Trump and members of Congress to work together to fix our broken immigration system, and to keep the demands of due process and family unity at the forefront. As a nation of immigrants, we must and can do better than this.
Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
We are outraged by the actions of Donald Trump. 140 people couldn’t go home to their families last night, and their children were left on their own to fend for themselves – that is unconscionable. Yesterday, Donald Trump sent in ICE agents to separate hard working immigrant families in an egregious show of force. Our union is a union of hard working people, which includes immigrants; and we stand with all immigrant workers, who are trying to support their families and better their lives. Our union will not stand for violence against immigrants; we will not stand for tearing families apart and we will not stand for the terrifying tactics of the Trump Administration. The RWDSU is committed to assisting workers affected by this ICE raid and will continue to fight against any and all heartless attacks on immigrant workers seeking to provide for their families.
Kenneth Rigmaiden, General President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
With blatant disregard for hard working people in this country, the Trump Administration continues to ramp up efforts to target workers trying to make ends meet in some of the toughest work environments this country has to offer. Like many other immigrants in U.S. history these men and women have come, in hopes of building a better life and to realize the American Dream. Many have realized that dream by joining unions to secure a fair and safe workplace, free from intimidation and exploitation. The actions of this administration undermine the rights of all workers and one of the most important American values we believe in, collective action.
Attacks against any workers regardless of affiliation on their job site, by unscrupulous contractors, overzealous Government agents or anyone else is something that undermines our ability as workers to bargain for better wages and better conditions.
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades will stand with our Brothers and Sisters in the Working Families United coalition and demand action in our communities as we push for an end to these unjust enforcement policies and call on legislators to provide comprehensive immigration reform that includes a clean path to citizenship.
Jim Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
The Teamsters Union must speak up in support of hardworking union members and their right to a fair and secure workplace. The assault on workers must stop now. We want UFCW members and all our brothers and sisters in the labor movement to know that we support you. Our strength is in our unity, and we are calling for an end to policies that hurt workers and tear families apart.
An attack on any one worker is an attack on our shared goal of lifting up all workers in our country. We need comprehensive immigration reform, but we also need humane policies that respect workers and their families.
Petee Talley, Secretary-Treasurer, Ohio AFL-CIO
In the face of multiple devastating worksite raids in less than a month, the Ohio AFL-CIO says enough is enough. Worksite raids do nothing to raise wages and standards for working people in Ohio. In fact, they create fear in our workplaces and communities, which actually makes us all less safe.
The labor movement rejects enforcement-only tactics like raids that punish working people and are part of a larger agenda to weaken our unions and lower our wages. The right way to use immigration policy to improve working conditions is to give long-term members of our workforce and our unions a well-earned path to citizenship, not by creating terror in our worksites or expanding abusive guest worker programs.
We refuse to let the politicians or employers divide us. Our answer is to stand united, as a politically independent movement of working people, for an immigration agenda that lifts people up, strengthens our communities, and ensures that we are all able work with dignity, regardless of where we were born.
Harriet Applegate, Executive Secretary, North Shore AFL-CIO
The North Shore Federation of Labor condemns the raids at Corso’s Nursery in Erie County. All American workers should be guaranteed a safe workplace and what could be more unsafe than an employer allowing federal agents onsite to haul workers away ‘en masse’?
This is one more example not only of incredible cruelty but also of the fact that OSHA laws should apply to agricultural workers. OSHA guarantees safe workplaces to its covered workers. It is high time that agricultural workers be given the same protections as all the rest of the American workforce.
Rounding up people at work prohibits them from making arrangements for their children, much less notifying them or affording them the opportunity to say goodbye. This is cruel and inhuman. This makes the United States resemble a fascist dictatorship more than a representative democracy. This behavior and these policies must stop!
Yanela Sims, Ohio State Director/VP, SEIU Local 1
I emigrated to the United States when I was eight years old. My parents told me that our family came to this country for a better life. As a child, I didn’t understand what they meant. As I saw it, everything was just fine. It wasn’t until I became an adult, and had a child of my own that I was able to relate to my parents. Although I had a great life growing up, I too want better for my child than what I had.
In Ohio and across the country, increased ICE raids send a clear message that the United States is no longer a place where anyone can build a better life and that instead, this opportunity is reserved for a select few. These attacks inform us that working people can be disregarded while corporations are praised, and that respect and dignity does not apply to all.
Random raids won’t make a perceived “problem” go away or make the country safer, or magically make more jobs appear. Random raids separate families, destroy lives, condone hate, and show us all that only some citizens of our society are regarded as human beings who deserve the better life that we all want for ourselves and our families.
Deb Kline, Director, Cleveland Jobs with Justice and President, OPEIU Local 1794
The militarized raids in Erie County on Tuesday are not only heartbreaking and appalling for the workers and their families but also another fine example of this administration continuing to talk out of both sides of their mouths. One of the news reports stated that the raid was “part of a crackdown on employers,” yet Corso’s was back up and running just three hours after the raids while their 114 employees sat in prison. Corso’s continued selling plants while the children of their employees cried out for their missing parents. If the government is truly cracking down on employers then why weren’t the Corsos the ones led away in zip ties instead of their employees.
The lack of compassion shown towards the children of these workers, who were left on their own after the raids, is startling but now no longer surprising. We see it at the border, where the children are being ripped from their mothers’ arms, just as we saw it in Erie County on Tuesday. Lady Liberty is weeping in the harbor; her light to freedom and liberty is no longer burning.
Linda Lynch, OPEIU Local 1794
I write in regard to the recent raids at the Corso’s Flower and Garden Centers in Sandusky and Castalia, Ohio.
It is REPREHENSIBLE that in our “free” country, workers of Hispanic descent had machine guns pointed in their faces, were zip-tied and arrested while on their jobs. In one case, a Hispanic American CITIZEN was caught up in the raid and was released only after Senator Sherrod Brown’s office intervened and evidence of citizenship was provided. I’m sure there were other CITIZENS arrested simply for going to work that day, as well.
If undocumented immigration is REALLY such a problem in America, why then aren’t the businesses who employ them punished more severely? After all, if not for the jobs they are offering, the undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be here working, would they? Businesses that break the law by exploiting undocumented immigrants should be shuttered PERMANENTLY and the owners imprisoned. It is the burden of the EMPLOYER to make sure people they are employing are legal to work in this country. Punish the greedy employers, and then provide a feasible and affordable pathway to citizenship for the workers with clean records that have been exploited. Why does our government continue to demonize and punish immigrants who come to America in search of a better life, just as our ancestors did?
Unions and union workers must stand against these acts of barbarity committed on human beings by our government and we must support leadership that rebukes these inhumane actions instead of encouraging them.
This is about human beings and who we are as a nation.
Jobs with Justice, National
On Tuesday, June 6, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Border Patrol raided two Corso’s Flower & Garden Center locations in Ohio. Despite DHS officials reporting that the raid was conducted to investigate the employer, agents detained more than 100 employees in a militarized operation, and Corso’s re-opened for business a few hours later.
At Jobs With Justice, we fight for the rights of undocumented Americans. This important group lives in our communities and contributes to our economy. We oppose unscrupulous employers unfairly profiting from a broken immigration system that persists in pushing these vulnerable people and their families even deeper into the shadows.
This raid, among others, instills widespread fear that has long-term consequences. The ripple effects are numerous, and include workers feeling scared to report wage theft, dangerous work conditions, and other abuses. All told, this makes all working people less safe. Our nation’s leaders must safeguard civil, labor, and human rights for all people working in this country – and stop threatening these democratic principles.
Harry Williamson, Executive Secretary, Lorain County AFL-CIO
The inhumane raids at both Corso’s Nursery and their Flower and Garden Center on June 5th were both egregious and despicable. 114 undocumented workers were arrested and sent off to prisons in three different locations in Michigan and Ohio, but just three hours later both Corso’s locations were back open for business as if nothing had happened earlier in the day. We see this repeatedly across the country when ICE raids businesses; the owners are inconvenienced by losing a couple of hours of business while families are ripped apart and destroyed
The raids in Erie County will not only have a devastating effect on the families of the workers, but they will also have a negative impact on the local economy in the communities where these workers were living and raising their families. Doesn’t seem like a very efficient use of the tax dollars it took to involve 200 ICE and Border Patrol Agents in these raids.
The Lorain County AFL-CIO stands with these workers and their families and hopes that others in the Labor community will join us.
Employees of Fresh Mark’s meatpacking plants have experienced conditions and dangers that no worker anywhere should have to endure. In the last six months, one worker was killed in Fresh Mark’s Canton plant, and two suffered serious amputations. All three incidents are being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This level of disregard for workers’ lives and safety is unheard of, even in the notoriously dangerous meatpacking industry. Previous targets of this administration’s worksite immigration raids have engaged in similarly egregious conduct that undercuts labor standards for all workers.
But rather than hold employers accountable for violating basic worker protections simply to inflate profits and undercut competitors, this administration has chosen to target and arrest the workers.
….Indeed, the Trump administration shows no desire to follow through on its promise to protect American workers and jobs. Instead, this administration continues to side, again and again, with big business against low-wage workers—for example, by scrapping Obama-era rules that would have made millions more workers eligible for overtime pay and would have ensured that government contractors follow employment laws. The president also commuted the sentence of the employer in the Postville, Iowa raid, where the employer owed $10 million in back wages, had violated child labor laws, and tolerated sexual assault of female employees on the premises.
Despite his rhetoric, workers and others in this country should see the Trump administration’s workplace immigration raids and see powerful evidence that his administration has no intention of protecting or advancing the needs of workers.
NASW Ohio condemns the ICE raids that occurred this week in Sandusky, Ohio. These raids targeted gardening and landscaping workers; leaving over 100 families displaced, detained, and separated from each other and their communities. We are working with a coalition of organizations to provide support and resource linkage to the families impacted.
The effects of this raid will be felt for years to come. The taxpayers will now have to support these children as they go through the system. This helps nobody and solves no problems. We need to rally together and show government officials what we think. We can not allow this sort of thing to continue.
[It’s] heartbreaking to see how the families had fled, leaving behind vehicles and all of their possessions. Their top priority was to protect their families.
It was abhorrent the way they were detained, especially without regard for the children. Children were left at daycare centers. These are extremely hard working, low-wage workers who are highly exploited. What happened is a travesty of justice. What we are witnessing is the systematic dismantling of due process by every administration, Democratic and Republican alike. How you treat your non-citizens is how you will treat your citizens.
Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez, Co-Director, InterReligious Task Force on Central America & Colombia
The dangers that propel children, teens, women, and others from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and elsewhere to seek refuge in the United States have not ended. The number of people arrested — simply for being immigrants — in the US interior rather than at the border (meaning they were not new arrivals) increased by more than 40 percent over last year. Concurrently, immigration arrests of people with no criminal convictions nearly tripled. Those in uniform “secure” walls for others who wield inequitable power as pawns of a broken system. It can be unbearable to recognize the humanity of another, especially if the other person is visibly suffering, but we must. How can we turn away from families and children? How could we be so cruel, to abandon people who are only trying to care for themselves and their families?
LULAC opposes the division of families. This raid targeted workers. Some of them are U.S. citizens. Constant targeting of Latinos is unacceptable. It disrupts the community and creates emotional stress among families.
Ohio, we need to have a conversation about work and family. In the past two weeks, hundreds of federal agents with guns have descended upon garden centers and meatpacking plants in our state to arrest humble workers in aggressive, military-style immigration raids.
Many of those arrested at Corso’s had worked there for years and even decades. Fresh Mark employees have been killed on the job. These are hard-working men and women doing difficult work so that we all can enjoy beautiful plants and delicious meat.
In carrying out these raids, ICE spends a lot of time planning their attack, but no thought at all on what will happen to the children when mom or dad didn’t come home from work. As we’ve seen with their treatment of kids at the border, the Administration sees the children of immigrants as pawns to control the behavior of their parents, nothing more. After all, they can always go to “foster care, or whatever,” as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly callously said.
But we, Ohio, know better. Kids are kids, and taking a parent away from them is not a decision we should ever make lightly. In these raids, we are treating parents who work hard to support their families–to the benefit of us all–like they are a danger to society. In Salem, Massillon, and Canton, and in Sandusky and Norwalk, hundreds of our Ohio neighbors and their families had their lives shattered because they went to work.
Instead of doing that, Congress and the Administration should create an immigration system that matches our American values: work, family, decency.
This latest ICE carnival was brought to you by the Donald Trump road show. It’s not really about stolen American jobs or evil immigrants, neither of which is a threat here. It’s about a reality show president’s desperate attempt to keep his base worked into the frenzy of fear and rage he needs to feel special.
The people you haven’t seen in this latest farce are the children who were left behind, in day care or with baby sitters, separated from their parents.
….This is what we do now in America. Our government singles out brown and black children and traumatizes them, as policy. We rip their parents away from them and claim we’re protecting jobs that Americans don’t even want.
We don’t even pretend this isn’t what’s happening.
We just say this is how it’s going to be.
Those arrested at the Corso’s Flower and Garden Centers and at Fresh Mark’s facilities are men and women who break their backs daily to put food not only on their families’ tables but on our tables as well. And if you don’t believe it, just ask many farmers, slaughterhouse owners, or sea food suppliers. Who but immigrants are harvesting the lettuce, slaughtering the pigs, or picking the crabs that we as consumers come to enjoy at a price we can afford? Look at the mulch in your garden, the azaleas that line your driveway. Who do you think put in the work so that you can enjoy a pleasant summer afternoon in your backyard?
…When you look at the photographs of those arrested at Corso’s and Fresh Mark’s, you might allow yourself to see them as your neighbors and your co-workers – since that is what they have been for years, if not decades – rather than as violent criminals who deserve to be separated from their children and uprooted from their communities. And then you might pause and ask: In whose name is this being done and why?
We come here for a better life. We are not killers, we are not traffickers. We just come here for a better life.
These are good, hardworking people. They are my friends. I knew these people. I go over to their houses and we have parties together. You can’t fault them for trying to better their lives, for coming here. People are starving where they come from. I’d risk my life to come here too.
It was chaos. It was horrible what happened because people have children and they didn’t know what to do with them. These are hardworking people and it’s not fair. The women were all crying because they have kids too. I’ve known them for years, they’re hardworking and they’re just trying to better their lives.
[Speaking of the children of those arrested in the Corso’s raids] Those of you who still want to think of their mothers and fathers as “illegal aliens,” think again. Those of you who believe you are different and deserve different things because your skin is lighter or your native language is English, think again, because we are bigger than that. There are no “illegal people” and “legal people” — we are all people.
It’s about justice, not politics. And justice is not telling people there is a company meeting with doughnuts and then rounding them up with guns and dogs and tying their hands.
Those of you who voted for Trump, did you vote for that? Do you really think those people working at Corso’s for long hours and going home to hot trailers are taking anything away from you? Or are they enriching our culture, our schools, with their presence?
While the sudden detention of 114 people is absolutely heartbreaking, what is infuriating is knowing that all of this pain and mean-spiritedness could be mitigated with comprehensive immigration reform. President Reagan recognized this fact, which is why he supported the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the last time we had anything close to meaningful immigration reform. What was possible and necessary then, including providing legal status to nearly 3 million undocumented residents, seems nearly impossible today.
And while some elected leaders have demonstrated the moral courage to push for immigration reform that would include a path to citizenship for some who meet specific criteria (such as DACA recipients or “Dreamers”), these efforts have been continually thwarted and ridiculed by powerful legislators and President Trump to our nation’s detriment. This refusal to work in a bipartisan way to mend our broken immigration system stands in stark contrast to what polls consistently show: That the vast majority of Americans want immigration reform, with 70 percent supporting continued administrative relief for Dreamers.