"Frightened" Illegal Immigrants in Hiding After Raids

In Julie Preston's "Immigrants' Families Figuring Out What to Do After Federal Raids," the focus, predictably, is not the criminal acts by illegal immigrants, but how raids by immigration authorities have made them afraid to venture out in public.

Preston's Saturday story is set off with a tear-jerking four-day-old AP photo of a weeping mother who "held her 3-month-old son on Tuesday as her husband was held at a Swift meat plant in Greeley, Colo."

The text box advances the theme of illegal immigrants as cowering victims: "'Many people are still very frightened,' and dozens of immigrants are said to be hiding."

The actual story is no less slanted, barely mentioning the primary reason for the raids: "Immigrant families scrambled yesterday to find detained relatives, arrange care for children of deported parents and recover from the loss of work as a result of raids this week by immigration authorities at meat-packing plants in six states.

"The raids, part of a federal operation against identity theft, had stunning effects on the surrounding towns, residents said. In all, 1,282 legal and illegal immigrants were arrested, and in most cases the plants, all operated by Swift & Company of Greeley, Colo., were the largest employer around.

"'Many people are still very frightened,' Mayor Luis Aguilar of Cactus, Tex., said.

"In Cactus, 275 employees were arrested.

"In Worthington, Minn., with 230 arrests, residents said dozens of immigrants had gone into hiding.

"'I've never seen anything like it, the sadness, the emptiness, the fear,' a schoolteacher, Barbara Kremer, said. Ms. Kremer said she had provided shelter in her house since the raid for 24 immigrants who were afraid to return to their homes.

"The raids, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, netted dozens of immigrants who were legal residents but did not have their papers with them at work. Others arrested were illegal who have to leave the country or face deportation."

The generally anti-businessTimes shows a strange andsudden solicitude for a corporate executive, letting Swift CEO Sam Rovit discuss the burden the raid will put on his business: "Mr. Rovit said Swift, third largest meatpacker in the nation, paid good wages by industry standards, twice the minimum wage, with health benefits. With tight profit margins, he added, Swift would be hard-pressed to replace the workers for work, which is demanding and has historically attracted immigrants, including immigrants without proper documents."

(Take away the Times-speak, and we think "immigrants without proper documents" translates as "illegal immigrants.")

"[Rovit] said a continued crackdown would bring 'a shrinking in the industry, because there is not enough labor to go around.'"

The Times doesn't talk to any victims of identity theft who may have a less sympathetic view of those immigrants "without proper documents."