How the Michael Bianco Action Was Actually Handled
March 6 was the one year anniversary of the “raid” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Michael Bianco Incorporated in New Bedford. Remember that managers at the factory (allegedly) did not just knowingly hire undocumented immigrants but would helpfully direct applicants (allegedly) down the street to obtain (allegedly) fake documents as needed.
In researching related matters, I came across this statement by ICE which describes in detail the manner in which the action was handled and how the familial situations of employees were carefully anticipated and accommodated. As there will almost certainly be more such enforcement activity by ICE at other workplaces (and my own preference has always been for a concentration on employer rather than employee), the compassion and professionalism with which ICE handled the Michael Bianco action and enforced our laws should be made clear.
MYTH: Information regarding the whereabouts of those detained was not provided to family members, reported by WHDH-TV Boston, AP, and Boston Globe.
FACT: ICE set up and staffed a 24-hour toll-free hotline for family members of those who have been arrested to field questions about their locations and about the removal process. Those arrested at the worksite were also given telephone access to inform family members of the situation.
MYTH: ICE failed to provide detainees with adequate child care options, resulting in hundreds of children stranded without responsible care.
FACT: ICE took extraordinary care to determine if any of the arrestees were sole caregivers. This included direct questioning of all arrestees on the day of the enforcement operation. These interviews were conducted at the enforcement site specifically to determine the needs and status of any children impacted by the operation. Through this comprehensive communications effort, 60 of those detained were conditionally released for humanitarian purposes, including many who were released very soon after the completion of the operation. To date, DSS has not provided ICE with information of a single child that has been placed in foster care.
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MYTH: Prior to the commencement of this enforcement, ICE did not consider the welfare of the children impacted by the operation. An AP article reports that a baby was hospitalized because her mother was detained.
FACT: ICE took extraordinary care to determine if any of the detainees were sole caregivers. This included direct questioning of all detainees at the worksite on the day of the enforcement action. Aliens were asked on three separate occasions about whether they were sole caregivers – at the factory the day of the arrest, during processing at Ft. Devens, and at the detention facility. Indeed, as aliens provided this information, humanitarian releases were granted. As of March 12, a total of 90 detainees have been, or are scheduled to be, released including 60 from the worksite and at Fort Devens, and 30 more subsequently identified at detention centers.
In short, most of the media got most of the facts wrong about the preparation and implementation of this enforcement action, thereby creating a falsely negative impression of the agency. (Was that hate speech on the part of those media outlets?) And the two United States Senators from Massachusetts, who seemed confused about which Constitution and which constituency they were elected to serve, remarkably did not bother to first obtain clarification of actual events from their own government agency but simply allowed themselves to be misled by erroneous reporting, presumably not desiring facts to get in the way of a good pander.