Class Action Turns Inhuman Immigration Raid Into Social Justice Victory — Impact Fund

Courageous workers; Isabel Zelaya, Geronimo Guerrero, Catarino Zapote Hernandez, Martha Pulido, Carolina Romulo Mendoza, and Maria del Pilar Gonzalez Cruz inducted into Class Action Hall of Fame.

It started as a day like any other but then ICE raided a Tennessee meatpacking plant. Lacking any individualized information about the workers in the plant, federal agents and Tennessee law enforcement conspired to detain every worker who looked Latinx without regard to citizenship or documentation. The officers also used excessive force.

For Carolina, “the day before the tragedy was like any other day. I went to work and back home. Emotionally, I was doing well, I was fine together with my family. In the poultry plant where I worked, everything was normal and calm. No one was worried about immigration or thought that anything like that would happen. In Morristown, which is a growing and bustling town, we viewed ICE raids as something far from us, something that didn’t happen here. No one had any idea what was going to happen.

On April 5, 2018, officers and ICE agents surrounded the Southeastern Provisions plant and we were aggressively arrested and discriminated against based on our country of origin. Only the Latino workers were arrested while white workers were left alone. As the raid was happening, I felt very scared especially because of the way the agents acted towards us workers. Agents were yelling at us, grabbing us aggressively, and had their weapons drawn.

We decided to bring this lawsuit because our rights were violated as immigrants and as human beings. We as workers were traumatized by the way we were treated, and our families suffered as well.”

Taking up the story, Catarino continues: “Some of the high moments of the case were when the attorneys gave us hope; they were very attentive and gave us information about our rights as immigrants. They gave us hope to continue on with our collective action. Another high was when they let me know that I would be able to return to the US and be back with my family—all thanks to the lawsuit.

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