Advocates Alarmed About Immigration Raids

Leading domestic and sexual violence experts are raising serious concerns about potential violations of human rights in the aftermath of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on meatpacking plants in six states on Tuesday. Advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence are reporting inhumane treatment of those who have been detained, with some parents being separated from newborns and not being allowed to relay information about children with serious medical conditions.

The largest immigration raid in U.S. history resulted in the arrests of close to 1,300 people who work at Swift meatpacking plants in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Utah on December 12. Many are now being held at a National Guard facility near Des Moines, or being bused to similar facilities in Atlanta. In the first days after the raids, advocates for victims of violence, clergy and others who tried to see the detainees were turned away.

“The rights of victims of violence – and of all people – must be protected, even as the government enforces its laws,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “All of those arrested are entitled to humane treatment and due process, and some of them may well have rights under the Violence Against Women Act. We ask officials to take all steps necessary to protect their rights and respect their dignity. It is terribly sad that during this holiday season so many parents have been ripped away from their children and subjected to callous treatment.”

There are persistent reports that Latinos who are U.S. citizens were arrested during the raids. Candlelight vigils in support of immigrants are being planned in the affected states, including Denver and Greeley, Colorado; Omaha and Grand Island, Nebraska; Des Moines, Dubuque, Marshalltown and Sioux City, Iowa; and Austin, Minnesota.

Those who wish to help can:

  • Call or email their Senators and Representative to ask that all detainees be treated humanely and given due process, that parents be allowed contact with their children, and that officials be mindful that some of the detainees may have rights under the Violence Against Women Act. To contact your Members of Congress, call 202/224-3121 and ask to be connected to their office. To email your Members of Congress, click here.
  • Support the Iowa Family Support Fund – an emergency fund set up by the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, to help those affected in that state. Please send checks to: Iowa Support Fund, c/o Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 515 28th Street, Suite #104, Des Moines, IA 50312
  • Support Centro Civico Mexicano to help those affected by the raids in Utah. Please send checks to: Centro Civico Mexicano, 155 South 600 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84101. For more information, visit
  • Attend a candlelight vigil this Sunday, December 17 to protest the raids and to support affected families.


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