AvatarImmigration and Sanctuary Cities have been hot topics in the national news, particularly with an Administration determined to meet campaign promises rather than go about solving these human and economic issues in a constructive manner.  But the problem is not new and it brings me back to my Northwest years, the raid on the Portland Del Monte Plant, and the Women of the Bracelet.

It would have been 2007 and I was an exec in the food processing industry, working for a company with plants in California and Vancouver, WA (across the bridge from Portland).  Back then, the far right were chanting “build a wall” as they are now, and U.S. Immigration and Customs agents (I.C.E.) were being sent out to raid industries that used migrant labor.

Farming and food processing in the U.S. depends upon this seasonal work force, but rather than the government creating a reasonable guest worker process (like the bracero program during WWII) they choose to ignore the problem, letting the migrants take all the risk.

In June of 2007, I.C.E. raided the Del Monte food processing plant at the Port of Portland, herding workers onto buses and transporting them up I-5 to a Tacoma, WA, detention center.  Almost immediately Portland churches learned that this raid separated mothers from children who were in school or day care or kept by other family members, and an inter-faith group known as New Sanctuary mounted a rapid and strong objection.

Through their efforts, New Sanctuary activists were able to press I.C.E. into releasing the mothers into their care so they could be reunited with their children while awaiting deportation hearings.  These mothers called themselves Las Mujeres de la Brazalete – Women of the Bracelet – for the tracking device they were required to wear. 

So when we read about Sanctuary Cities and organizations like New Sanctuary, it is important we remember that these people – these kind and brave people – are addressing the human issues that our government leadership continues to ignore because migrants are of little consequence to their re-election, or, apparently, to their conscience.  

— Jonnie Martin


About jonnietootling

It seems forever that I have seen myself as a writer, enamored of life and great literature. I have been a journalist, a blogger, a published novelist; hold both a Bachelor's and Master's in literature and creative writing. Now in my 70's I am blogging here about existence, philosophy, art, literature, people of every stripe, finding our way through life, and growing old with panache.
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6 Responses to NEW SANCTUARY

  1. Hard to believe that was 10 years ago! I remember it well! It seems we’ve been ensnared in health care and immigration chaos forever, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, and we really don’t need to be. The U.S. lacks its own manual laborers — since most kids grow up in cities, not out on farms; and even the less-educated workers would rather have a job in the AC environment of McDonald’s than slave in the fields or the hot canneries. Mexico (and similar countries) have an abundance of manual laborers who can and will do those jobs. But it would take work and thought to create a workable immigration program that includes a guest worker permitting process. Everyone would win. So many reasons this hasn’t been done, so everyone loses — particularly the seasonal workers who bear by far the greater risk.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Diana Shaw says:

    Excellent article, Jonnie. Sad that we are still dealing with this 10 years later.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joella Ewing says:

    Good news in today’s paper (7/25/17). Massachusett’ highest court ruled yesterday that MA police officers do not have the authority to arrest someone suspected of being in the US illegally if that person is not facing criminal charges. The decision applies specifically to officers who provide security in state courthouses, but it also suggests that no MA police officer has the legal standing to comply with such federal requests. One of the state’s police associations said the ruling applies to all state law-enforcement officials. Take that Mr. Trump!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We may become the “Independent States of America,” I am counting on Oregon to remain sensible and do what needs to be done despite stupid Federal mandates that violate our values. Bravo, Massachusetts!


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