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Immigrants to fast on sixth anniversary of Bianco raid

Immigration Reform

March 5, 2013 | South Coast Today | Source Article

United Interfaith Action of Southeastern Massachusetts (UIA)

By SIMÓN RIOS

NEW BEDFORD — Members of the city's immigrant population will go without food to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the raid at the Michael Bianco factory.

David Rolando Oliva, director of Centro Comunitario Trabajadores, or Workers Community Center, is one of two people who will go 72 hours with just water and honey. He said the aim of the fast is to send a message to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Those without papers aren't criminals.

Oliva will be joined by Francisco Ramos, executive director of United Interfaith Action of Southeastern Massachusetts, who lives in Boston.

Though only the two will fast the entire three days, at least seven others will fast for shorter periods, Oliva said.

The Bianco raid took place March 6, 2007, when 361 workers were picked up in an ICE sweep that drew international attention.

Based on anecdotal accounts from law firms representing those under ICE supervision, Centro Comunitario Trabajadores estimates that dozens of Bianco workers remain under ICE supervision. Oliva said he is awaiting hard numbers from law firms representing the immigrants to determine the exact number.

Oliva, a native of El Salvador, said those under supervision are classified as criminals and must wear ankle monitors.

"We believe these conditions are tormenting and it's not deserved," he said. "These are people who are here working and nothing else, trying to live dignified and earn a living for their families."

Four days of events will begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Grace Episcopal Church, culminating Saturday at noon with a march from Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. James Catholic Church.

People rounded up in the Bianco raid will be present throughout the commemoration to give testimonies on their experiences.

The activities are supported by an array of churches and nonprofit organizations.