Our friends over at the Willamette Week, a free alternative weekly newspaper published right here in Portland (you can find their papers in blue boxes on street corners), are once again standing up for the little guys.
And by “little guys,” I mean “federal agents working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” who raided a Portland fruit plant yesterday and arrested 167 undocumented workers—a raid that was based at least in part on a May 2 story by WW writer Beth Slovic. Her piece, “Chop Shop,” detailed the working conditions at the plant, and also mentioned the fact that, whooops!, most of the employees were undocumented.
Slovic’s article was quoted in three and a half pages of ICE’s affidavit (pages 20-24), which was prepared by an ICE agent named Maximillian L. Trimm. (Seriously? Maximillian Trimm? If that isn’t the best porn name ever, I don’t know what is.)
The Dub-Dub has posted an update to Slovic’s feature with the news about the immigration raid—that post has already drawn fire from immigrant rights’ supporters blaming the paper for the raid, as well as a number of right-wing xenophobes praising WW for inadvertently getting the workers deported.
In truth, I believe Slovic set out to tell a story about the awful working conditions the plant workers faced, so it’s got to sting to have her piece used by ICE in an action that will even more thoroughly fuck those workers. Youch!
p.s. I should add that I got my journalistic start by writing feature stories about the plight of immigrant workers (sheepherders and construction workers, documented and undocumented), and I never went “undercover” for any of the stories. I gained the trust of the subjects by assuring them that I wouldn’t write anything that would identify them or otherwise lead to retribution against them. I’m not in the habit of blowing my own horn, but one of those stories won a New California Media award (not a Pulitzer or anything, but still), and as far as I know, nobody ever got deported because of anything I wrote. Just sayin’.
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