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February 26, 2009
6:53 PM

Grassroots Groups Mobilize, Napolitano Orders Review of First Workplace Raid Under Obama Administration

WASHINGTON - February 26 - The Center for Community Change today met with representatives of the Department of Homeland Security to continue discussing the first workplace raid under President Obama. The meeting followed a day of furious activity as the Fair Immigration Reform Movement helped lead the rapid response mobilization of grassroots activists throughout the country through use of its Mobile Action Network, producing calls, faxes and emails to the White House.

The groups' quick action got the attention of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano who immediately asked for a review of the raid at the Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham, Wash. The raid was conducted by more than 70 ICE agents in riot gear and resulted in the chained detention of 28 workers.

"We are pleased by the Obama Administration's quick response to this raid, and are hopeful they will immediately abandon the harsh, ineffective enforcement-only practices of the Bush Administration," said Marissa Graciosa, campaign coordinator for FIRM, a CCC project. "This raid was another wake up call for the Obama Administration to enact policies that reflect the country's values of inclusiveness, shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. We need just and humane immigration reform, not the terrorization of our communities."

Activists, led by OneAmerica in Seattle, quickly pulled together a press conference Wednesday morning and groups throughout the country sent out action alerts that generated thousands of phone calls and emails to the White House expressing their displeasure with the raid. At Thursday's meeting, DHS officials promised to continue working with CCC and other groups to find creative ways to keep America safe, but also to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

"This was a meeting that would never have happened under the previous administration," Graciosa said. "The meeting and the review are promising signs that we have an administration that will be responsive to people's concern and is truly committed to living its values."

Center for Community Change Executive Director Deepak Bhargava shares a provocative insider's perspective on the progressive community's first real test of its critical friendship with the Obama Administration in this blog post:

The Center for Community Change strengthens, connects and mobilizes grassroots groups to enhance their leadership, voice and power.  We believe that vibrant community-based organizations, led by the people most affected by social and economic injustice, are key to putting an end to the failed "on your own" mentality of the right and building a new politics based on community values.


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