Service held on 6th anniversary of New Bedford immigration raid
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. —
An interfaith service was held Saturday to mark the six year anniversary of the raid at Michael Bianco in New Bedford.
Immigration and customs enforcement raided the factory and rounded up more than three hundred illegal workers, many of whom were deported.
Six years later, some cases are still pending. "People still have to report weekly or monthly, to head up to Burlington, to meet with officials," said Dr. Lisa Maya Knauer, a UMass Dartmouth professor who's active in immigration issues.
Noelia Ramos was one of the workers arrested. She was almost deported last year, but got a reprieve.
Ramos said "I was given a work permit for one year or more, now that year is almost up; I don't know what more is so I worry."
"People live in fear even though it's six years later," said Luis Gomez.
Gomez was 17 when his mother was also arrested in the raid.
"I felt helpless with my mother in prison, not being able to see her was heartbreaking," Gomez said.
With legal help his mother eventually achieved residency, but Gomez knows others have not been so lucky so he's joined the effort to push for immigration reform.
A spokesman from Immigration and Customs Enforcement tells NBC 10 that the agency has undergone changes since the Bianco raid.
A new worksite enforcement strategy launched in 2009 now penalizes employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.
The agency also works to deter employers from hiring illegal workers, and offers tools to help them stay compliant with the law.