Invisible Communities: Forced Out, Guatemalans Learn the Power Of Visibility

May 10, 2010

Author: Bianca Vazquez Toness

Source: WBUR

In 2007, federal agents hauled off 361 immigrants from a factory in New Bedford. At the time, it was the biggest workplace raid in the country. Boston media outlets documented the ev ent in graphic detail.

“Today there were horror stories of workers fleeing the building and even jumping into New Bedford Harbor to escape the federal agents,” recounted one WBZ-TV reporter.

Juana Garcia was working inside the Michael Bianco, Inc. factory that day.

“When I saw that the agents carried guns I thought they were going to shoot us,” Garcia says in Spanish. “I thought we were all going to die that day.”

Garcia and many others were sent to Texas. Many women with small children were released but Garcia refused to divulge any information about her two-year-old son. She was afraid that immigration agents would pick him up, even though he’s a United States citizen.

It wasn’t until her son got very sick and his doctor sent a letter to immigration officials that they sent her back to New Bedford. Garcia had been detained nine days.