ICE Raids O’Neill, and A Community Responds

By S.R. August 23, 2018.

The day came in early August. A series of ICE raids, the largest at a tomato processing plant in O’Neill, Nebraska. Local churches and school teachers mobilized first — they know that immigrants are vital in their small communities. They began working with families that were affected and identifying any children who currently had parents in ICE custody. They made sure that the children were safe and the families were getting connected to legal support, food support, and emotional support.

While detainees were being shipped to Grand Island, NE for processing, organizers worked on the ground and began putting out calls for help. This included calling for protesters to physically come to Grand Island, links for financial donations, and supply request lists. The organizers also called for immediate aid from lawyers, who arrived by the bus load.

Groups from hours away began to respond. They shared updates, donation links, and supply requests on social media. People began to coordinate supply drop-off locations in Omaha where volunteers could pick up supplies and drive them out to the churches involved. Groups began to discuss and coordinate solidarity protest actions, and many hearts raced and cried for these families and the community of O’Neill.

Although most detainees were released, this raid still left a town devastated. The plant was shut down, along with a local grocery store. Even though the families have been reunited, their devastation continues. Without those jobs, paying for rent, utilities, and groceries instantly became impossible for many families.

All too soon, media stops paying attention, and most people forget. But out of the spotlight, the emergency response still continues. Supply runs happen every week from far reaching places, hot meals are being made and delivered to families every day, and lawyers are tirelessly fighting for their clients against a system that is not made to support them.

These people are being exploited by a system that is designed to exploit. They come to these small communities with promises of jobs, and end up working much harder than most people who are born here. They try and pay their taxes, “like good people should”, yet their bosses often do not report or pay those taxes to the government and end up

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Photo: CCR

pocketing the money for themselves. They’re often forced to cash paychecks at grocery stores that over charge them and pay kickbacks to the bosses. Endlessly, they are taken advantage of by this capitalist system and the people that benefit from its existence.


It’s absolutely crucial to understand that in times like these, every day needs emergency response. Part of that response is building new programs to support the local communities we live in, as well as finding ways to break down the current system altogether, which is arguably the most difficult task of all. Not only does I.C.E. need to be abolished, but so does capitalism in it’s entirety. Most humans on this planet are being exploited to death by its existence, and it’s time we finally stand up and fight back against it.

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