5 Year Anniversary Of Michael Bianco Plant Raid

Five years ago, FBI agents raided a New Bedford factory and arrested 350 illegal immigrants. Many of them are still trying to get their lives straightened out.

The former Michael Bianco plant was abruptly raided. All of the illegal workers were rounded up. Some were deported, others became citizens. The rest, five years later, are still waiting to learn their fate.     

Friday, many of those left behind gathered on this anniversary and marched to the former plant. About a hundred former workers chanted and marched to the old Michael Bianco plant. They still don't know whether they can stay in the U.S. or will have to leave.

Luis Gomez's family is still in limbo five years after the leather-goods factory where  his mom worked was raided by the FBI and she was put in jail.

“I thought that we would never see each other,” said Luis, “I couldn't visit her in jail and we didn't know where she was. We didn't know where they were keeping her and it was very stressful.”

Luis was 17 at the time. He didn't even know his mom was an illegal immigrant until the day hundreds of undocumented workers were arrested at the former Michael Bianco plant in New Bedford.

“I was shocked,” said Luis, “I didn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it.”

Now, his mom's out of jail and a U.S. citizen. “She's fine, but I guess now she's like fighting for me,” said Luis.

Luis is also an illegal immigrant and can't go to college or get a steady job, so he's marching with the other immigrant families from St. James Church to the old plant to mark the anniversary. A majority are still trying to become legal.

“Many of them have been able to go through the process in court to be able to turn the corner and make a new life for their families, but many of them are kind of in limbo,” said organizer Corinn Williams.

One thing these immigrants are certain of, fighting to stay here, the country they call home.

“We're not going to give up and we're going to fight the cases and as a community,” said Luis, “I'm sure that we can do this and I'm very confident that we can.”

The owner of the factory as well as the president both spent time in jail. The company was sold. Immigration and customs enforcement told Abc6, its job is to stop companies from hiring illegal workers, and sometimes that means arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants.