In wake of several violent Immigration and Naturalization Service attacks on day laborers, the Workers' Organizing Committee (WOC) and its allies have increased demands that the INS cease and desist its thuggish police practices. Despite community desire to see the raids toned-down or ended outright, the INS continues to stonewall.

In March, the INS carried out a series of raids on suspected illegal immigrants (see PPR #14). These raids featured numerous civil and human rights violations, many of which were caught on film by WOC. Portland INS Enforcement Chief Joe Shaffer was one of the officers caught abusing workers.

Following these incidents, WOC initiated a letter-writing campaign as part of its strategy to force the INS to respect workers' rights. The group asked community, labor and religious organizations and individuals to write letters to the INS calling for them to stop the raids and join the ongoing community dialogue between the workers, WOC, and neighborhood residents and businesses. INS District Director David Beebe received numerous letters (including one from Copwatch).

Obviously feeling the public pressure to negotiate, Beebe reluctantly agreed to meet with a coalition including WOC to discuss the issue. The coalition­­which included representatives from CAUSA '98, Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement, American Friends Service Committee, Jobs with Justice, Hispanic Ministries (part of the Catholic Church) and the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce­­met with Beebe and other INS agents on June 18.

When the INS crew arrived, they were met with a vigil consisting of over 150 people. The diverse group was there to show support for the rights of immigrants and all workers, and to voice outrage at the INS for carrying out policies that undermine the rights and standard of living of all of us. The crowd displayed placards stating where they or their ancestors emigrated from, and reminded the INS that we are still a nation of immigrants.

Inside, the workers' rights coalition presented a list of demands. They demanded that INS agents cease violating laws, their own policies and the public safety. They demanded that District Director Beebe maintain communication with the coalition. They also demanded that the INS refrain from propagating false and derogatory myths and stereotypes about immigrants to the public, as they have often done to justify their attacks.

When the negotiators adjourned some hours later, the crowd was still there, anticipating the result of many days' work. Before community negotiators could address the crowd, INS Enforcement Chief Shaffer singled out WOC organizer Gareth Miles and made vaguely threatening comments to him.

Beebe stated that he would expect all his agents to behave in a "professional manner," which really doesn't say much. He did, however, promise that the INS would continue to meet with the community on a regular basis about their concerns.

For more info contact the Workers' Organizing Committee at 284-3856. You can write to David Beebe, INS District Director at 511 NW Broadway, Portland, OR 97209.


People's Police Report #15 Table of Contents
People's Police Report Index Page

Return to Copwatch home page