The headlines say it all: “900 nabbed in state on immigration charges,” “A raid on fairness,” “Immigration raids terrify kids, House is told.”

In the last two months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have swept nightclubs and a doughnut plant in Texas, a resort in Virginia, a wood-products plant in Idaho, a taqueria chain in the San Francisco Bay Area, chicken-processing plants in Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia — and a growing number of homes and apartment complexes around the country.

In what ICE calls the country’s biggest “criminal worksite enforcement operation,” on May 12 agents dragged nearly 400 immigrant workers into a Waterloo, Iowa, holding pen with an eerily symbolic name — the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds.

Some say undocumented immigrants bring their troubles on themselves. But immigrants and their supporters point out that unfair international trade agreements have devastated the livelihoods of workers and farmers around the world, driving millions to undertake desperate journeys in an effort to support their families.

The toll the raids take on families and especially on children was highlighted at a May 21 hearing by the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee. “The impact of these raids has been devastating,” elementary school principal Kathryn Gibney told the subcommittee. A year after a raid on a nearby San Rafael, Calif., apartment complex, she said, absenteeism and counseling needs in her school remain higher, and test scores lower. “They left behind them a trail of fear,” she said.

Gibney said recently federal agents stopped a father walking his daughter to another San Rafael elementary school. Because the agents and the father did not share a language, the second grader had to translate. The undocumented father was taken away.

Countless families have been torn apart when undocumented parents are deported, leaving behind their children born in the United States.

As the November election draws nearer, more and more people in our country are calling for profound changes in the Bush administration’s array of failed foreign and domestic policies. Its policy toward immigrants is one of the most blatant failures.

In the name of our common humanity, stop the ICE raids now!

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