Community Organizing in Response to the August 29th ICE Raid

 Families affected by the raid

Families affected by the raid

The August 29, 2018 ICE Raid targeting Granite Precast workers was the third major raid in our community, predated by a 2007 workplace raid at Northwest Healthcare Linen and a 2009 workplace raid at Yamato Engine Specialist. As in 2007 and 2009, the families of workers affected by the raid came directly to C2C in the aftermath. However, this raid is unprecedented in a few key ways: it did not take place at the workplace, meaning that the Granite Precast workers did not have a unified experience, they did not know whether they were being singularly targeted, and there were no witnesses. Furthermore, Granite Precast voluntarily participated in the E-Verify program, which is optional in Washington State, triggering the I-9 audit.

Following the raid, families have organized and continue to provide for each other the best they can, with the solidarity of our larger community. You can contribute to the Whatcom Community Foundation relief fund here.

We have received many questions about the raid August 29th ICE raid where workers from Granite Precast were detained. In an effort to clarify and continue to support the impacted families we met with them and have compiled the timeline below. 

February 2018: ICE conducts an I-9 audit on Granite Precast in Bellingham due to results of an E-verify scan run by the employer. The list from the I-9 audit contains the names and information of 38 undocumented employees.

August 2018: Several employees of Granite Precast note that they are being followed by unmarked vehicles on a number of occasions. 

August 29, 2018: Between the hours of 4:30 and 6:30 am, ICE detains 16 Granite Precast employees either in their homes or on their way to work. The workers are brought to a border patrol facility for holding in Ferndale.

August 29, 2018: C2C is contacted by a family member of one of the detained workers. Individuals picked up have contacted other workers from Granite Precast to warn them about the raid.

August 30, 2018: C2C holds a sunrise rally at 6 am in front of the Ferndale Border Patrol. Employees of the facility confront the protest and let them know that the workers have already been transferred to the NW Detention Center in Tacoma.

August 30, 2018: C2C holds a meeting for the affected families at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship. Questions around bond fees, deportation, and what steps families can take to visit their loved ones are addressed by immigration attorney Hannah Stone.

September 1, 2018: C2C hosts a meeting of the families in their office. At that meeting Ruby Castaneda, whose husband was detained in the raid, volunteers to organize the families and assess what their needs are. The organization Raid Relief to Reunite Families is created.

September 5, 2018: Whatcom Community Foundation partners with Raid Relief to Reunite Families to support funding for bond and legal fees.

September 6, 2018: Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship partners with WCF and RRRF. 

September 7 - September 24, 2018: Six of the detained workers are released on bond. The fees, which were successively increased from $3,000 to $18,000 each, are covered by donations from the community. The workers released on bond are not allowed to work while they apply for their green cards.

During the month of September, eight of the detained workers are deported, leaving their families in Whatcom County without an income. Two of the workers remain in detention awaiting hearings to decide if they can remain here on asylum. Both of those workers are originally from Honduras. 

October 9, 2018: Catholic Community Services partners with RRRF.

Raid Relief to Reunite Families continues to self-organize regular meetings to best address the issues each family is going through, as well as shared meals. They are hosting a community meal open to the public on November 21, 2018 featuring food cooked by the families from Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. You can purchase a ticket or make a donation to the dinner here.

You can read more about Raid Relief to Reunite Families here. You can listen the leaders of RRRF tell their own story on C2C’s radio show Community Voz here.