U.S. Hispanic groups and activists on Thursday called for a moratorium on workplace raids to round up illegal immigrants, saying they were reminiscent of Nazi crackdowns on Jews in the 1930s.
They accused the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of “racial profiling,” or selective enforcement against Hispanics, for arresting 1,300 workers on immigration violations in December 12 raids at meatpacking plants in six states.
“We are demanding an end to these immigration raids, where they are targeting brown faces. That is major, major racial profiling, and that cannot be tolerated,” said Rosa Rosales, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, at a news conference.
“This unfortunately reminds me of when Hitler began rounding up the Jews for no reason and locking them up,” Democratic Party activist Carla Vela said. “Now they’re coming for the Latinos, who will they come for next?”
The groups, which included LULAC, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, sent letters to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, urging a halt to the raids.
They also called on Congress to quickly to approve immigration legislation that would allow for “guest workers” to remain in the United States.
LULAC, the oldest and largest Hispanic group in the country with 115,000 members, said workplace raids would cause families to be separated if the arrested immigrants were deported and also would hurt the U.S. economy.
“Every labor-intensive industry including the hospitality, construction, agriculture and restaurant industries will be adversely impacted if these raids continue,” Rosales said.