Fullerton ICE Raid Detained Abused Workers

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The ACLU of Southern California is suing in the aftermath of a June 29th ICE raid in Fullerton that detained 43 workers suspected of being undocumented. Those employed at Terra Universal Inc. allege rampant labor abuses at the the government contracted company that manufactures laboratory equipment and other products for the clients such as the Pentagon. A press conference held yesterday to announce the lawsuit brought to light most troubling charges. As local news channel ABC 7 reported:

Terra Universal employee Carlos Lomeli said at a news conference that in five and a half years, he was spit on, belittled and humiliated by the owner. He was forced to train people who made twice his salary. “For example, in some occasions we worked up to 13 hours straight five days a week, and Terra Universal did not pay me overtime,” Lomeli said through an interpreter.

Undocumented immigrant workers are most vulnerable to such abuses. Unpaid overtime, workplace humiliation, and check deductions for medical bills related to workplace injuries compile a vile list of Terra Universal’s business practices. How does the Fullerton company answer to such allegations? Again as ABC 7 has it, “Terra Universal’s Chief Operating Officer Ken Harms says the company values its employees and is sad to hear some may be dissatisfied.” What a brazen response! The appropriately named Harms and his management team should have been the ones ICED, but no, that isn’t how our broken immigration system worked in Dubya’s America then or in Obama’s America now.

Undocumented workers at Terra Universal were being abused and never spoke out for fear of retribution and retaliation. The government response? First, give the company a contract. Second, raid nearly a third of its workforce. The Department of Labor is investigating the claims of abuse. It’s quite interesting to see how juxtaposed the two federal agencies might become on this raid and on immigration in general.

For those who know history, ICE agents are the new Pinkertons.

About Gabriel San Roman