Lessons from East Tennessee: A Toolkit for Organizations Responding to Mass Worksite Immigration Raids

Publication date: 
May 2019
Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition's logo, which features their name on the right with a red, yellow, green, and black globe with white stars. Posted to accompany TIRRC's resource, Lessons from East Tennessee: A Toolkit for Organizations Responding to Mass Worksite Immigration Raids.

On April 5th, 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a massive worksite raid in Bean Station, Tennessee, outside of Morristown, arresting nearly 100 workers at a meat processing plant. This was the first large-scale worksite immigration raid conducted in the United States in nearly a decade.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), in partnership with local and national organizations, organized a robust response to defend the workers, support the affected families, and help the local community to process what ICE had done and understand the raid in a broader context of immigration policy.

Since the East Tennessee raid, ICE has conducted mass worksite raids in Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, and California, and the administration has continued to signal an increased use of this brutal tactic. In the aftermath of the East Tennessee raid, we developed a model for a robust, coordinated response to defend workers and transform the community in the wake of a massive raid and wanted to share our approach, resources, and tools with other organizations that may respond to worksite raids in their states.

While many toolkits are designed to help organizations prepare in advance for ICE actions in their community, this guide is meant to serve as an emergency toolkit that advocates can reference to respond the moment ICE conducts a worksite raid in their community.

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