New Bedford Faith Leaders and Advocates Commemorate Fifth Anniversary of Bianco Raids

Friday events will show community support for immigrant families still fighting separation

bianco raids

3/7/12 NEW BEDFORD — At 5:30 on Friday evening, an interfaith service will begin an evening of community commemoration and support for the hundreds of families still grievously affected by the raid at the Michael Bianco factory by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which made national headlines five years ago this week. The raid took place in the early morning of March 6, 2007,  when some 500 ICE agents and other law enforcement officials detained 361 undocumented garment workers at the New Bedford garment factory, mostly women from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Today, many of the detainees still face imminent separation from their families, often forcing them to choose between losing loved ones or taking their children away from the nation in which they were born and raised.

"The Obama administration has promised to focus immigration enforcement on hardened criminals," said Corinn Williams, Executive Director of the Community Economic Development Center (CEDC). "But these garment stitchers are still reporting weekly to ICE in Burlington and still moving through the deportation process. Their trauma didn't end with the raids: it has continued for five years. That is why faith leaders and community members are showing their support on Friday night."

The evening begins with an interfaith service at Our Lady of Guadalupe, followed by a candlelight procession through New Bedford, in an adaptation of the traditional Stations of the Cross, with each station representing one of the obstacles the workers have faced. Several of the affected immigrants will offer brief testimonials. The final stop will be at the Bianco factory, and then a bus will return participants to the church for light refreshments and a cultural program featuring local hip-hop artist Tem Blessed, a Salvadoran theater group, and a Guatamalan children's music and dance group.

WHO: participants include:

  • Father Richard Wilson, Our Lady of Guadelupe Church,
  • Father Marc Fallon,  Catholic Social Services,
  • Sister Mariana Silvester, Our Lady of Assumption Church New Bedford
  • Rev. Paulo Ribeiro, Christ is Life Presbyterian  Church, Fall River
  • Rev Jane Simms, Lawrence Union United Methodist Church, Fall River,
  • Rev. Ernesto Piñeda Centro Cristiano Emanuel, New Bedford
  • Rev. Jeremy Covin, Church of the Holy Spirit Episcopal, Fall River
  • Juana Garcia, Bianco raid detainee

Cultural Presenters Include:

  • Our Lady of Guadelupe Parish chorus
  • local hip hop artist Tem Blessed
  • Casa el Salvador

WHAT: "Let My People Go:" Five Years After the Michael Bianco Raid, vigil and procession

WHERE: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
133 County Street
New Bedford, MA 02744

WHEN: Friday, March 9, 5:30 p.m

Sponsors Include:

CEDC, CentroComunitario de Trabajadores (CCT), Fundación Romero, UE Northeast Region, the Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center at UMass Dartmouth, United Interfaith Action of Southeastern Massachusetts (UIA), Jobs with Justice  Justice at Work, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Casa El Salvador, MIRA Coalition, Immigrant’s Assistance Center, Student Immigrant Movement (SIM), Immigrant Workers Centers Collaborative (IWCC)