Photo: Handcuffed workers are forced into a bus at Koch Foods plant in Morton, Mississippi
By Mike Talavera
On Wednesday, hundreds of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents ambushed workers at several chicken processing plants, detaining nearly seven hundred workers in what is being called the largest single-day ICE action since the fascist agency’s founding in 2003.
Heartbreaking images spread of the children of these workers who were left abandoned on their first day of school or stranded at daycare because of the raids. The masses in Mississippi stepped up to provide food, transportation, and shelter to some of these children, but many remained helpless for hours. On Thursday, many of those detained were released, illustrating the broad and indiscriminate nature of the attack.
In the mid-1990s, over half a million Latin Americans migrated to the US South, and the immigrant population near poultry industry sites grew over 1000%. This massive relocation of immigrant laborers was in part instigated by the capitalist owners of these plants, who recruited and bussed them in from places like Florida and Texas to curb falling profits. The workforce had previously been almost entirely Black.
Last year, Koch Foods, one of the capitalists who deal in poultry slaughter, settled a $3.75 million dollar lawsuit filed by over one hundred immigrant workers who faced sexual abuse and physical assault from the mostly white management. This case has led many to speculate that the ICE raids were retaliation for the legal dispute, an act of collusion between the Trump administration and billionaire owner of Koch Foods Joseph Grendys.
While the US government certainly makes under-the-table deals with capitalists to pursue mutual ends, newly unsealed court documents show that ICE had been surveilling workers at these plants for years and had also used informants in preparing for the raids. Regardless of the level of collusion behind these raids, imperialism remains the ultimate cause.
Many of these immigrants left their home countries fleeing horrible conditions created primarily by US imperialism. Like the poultry capitalists, US imperialism as a whole must contend with the falling rate of profit, but unlike the capitalists, who must rely on tricking desperate workers, lengthening working hours, enforcing stricter workplace rules, etc., the US imperialists have the weapons of finance capital, the state, and the world’s largest military to use against the oppressed nations. They steal their natural resources, force them into debt, and employ secret and open military operations to repress dissent.
In this way, US imperialism’s stubborn refusal to accept its doom takes a grim toll on the masses and simultaneously summons the specter of fascism. Its imperialist wars force the people of the oppressed nations to emigrate to the imperialist countries, creating “immigration crises” that can be used as nationalist rallying cries by ultra-reactionaries like Trump, all the while giving fascists a platform to openly organize and opportunities to carry out mass shootings like the one in El Paso.
The raids on the Mississippi plants are not simply the result of Trump’s personal racism, lack of immigration reform, or a conspiracy – they are the natural outcome of imperialism, which terrorizes the masses wherever they go.
Those angered by these raids must recognize the root of this problem and not settle for shallow solutions peddled by sell-out politicians and immigrant advocacy nonprofits. Imperialists do not fear reforms, which justify imperialism’s continued existence. They fear the organized rage of the masses, led by history’s most revolutionary class, the proletariat, and its vanguard the Communist Party.