The traffic blockade was ready. The vans and buses were standing by. The agents told the mayor and the Department of Social Services. And then they stormed the factory.
It was March 6, 2007, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Immigration officials raided the Michael Bianco leather factory, a defense contractor that hired hundreds of undocumented workers to sew belts and backpacks for the US military.
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The agents arrested 362 workers, most of whom were deported to Guatemala.
Deportees left behind children, some so young they were still breastfeeding. Local social services groups had to take care of the kids, organize food donations and work with state agencies to try to get some of the parents out of detention.
ICE raids like these were happening across the country during President George W. Bush’s second term, sweeping factories from New Bedford to Postville, Iowa, to businesses in cities up and down California.
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