Tuesday, May 12, 2009

En el Aniversario de Postville, Un Grito: "No Mas Redadas!"

Today marks the the one-year anniversary of one of the biggest immigration raids on an employer in U.S. history. On this date in 2008, ICE agents entered Agriprocessors Inc., a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa and rounding up over 700 undocumented workers, 389 of whom were ultimately arrested.

The raid made a minimal dent in the number of undocumented immigrants but, according to the Los Angeles Times, virtually destroyed the town of Postville. "Since federal helicopters raced over cornfields on May 12, 2008, en route to arresting 389 illegal workers at a sprawling kosher meatpacking plant, what was a center of commerce in northeastern Iowa teeters toward collapse as the plant sputters in bankruptcy, its managers face prison time and the town fights to stay solvent.

"Since the landmark raid, an economic squeeze has destroyed several businesses. Postville's population has shrunk by nearly half, to about 1,800 residents, and townsfolk say the resulting anxiety -- felt from the deli to the schoolyard -- has been relentless."

On the anniversary of Postville, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement calling once again for immigration reform:

Statement of Most Reverend John C. Wester, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, on the first anniversary of the Postville, Iowa, Work Site Enforcement Action, May 12, 2009

May 12, 2009 marks the one-year anniversary of what was, at the time, the largest work site immigration enforcement action in history. Since that raid in Postville, Iowa, larger raids have occurred, but the precedent set at Postville and the accompanying compassionate response by that small Iowa community and its people of faith underscore the humanitarian costs of workplace immigration raids as well as the need for reform of our nation’s immigration policies.

As religious leaders, my brother Catholic bishops and I understand and support the right and responsibility of the government to enforce the law. We strongly believe, however, that worksite enforcement raids do not solve the challenge of illegal immigration. Instead, they lead to the separation of U.S. families and the destruction of immigrant communities. The result of the Postville raid was family separation, immense suffering, denial of due process rights and community division.

Our religious and social response to such harm to our God-given human dignity is based on Scriptures, which call believers to welcome the newcomers among us, to treat the alien with respect and charity, and to provide pastoral and humanitarian assistance to individuals and their families.

The Postville action of a year ago is a disturbing reminder of the need to repair the nation’s broken immigration policies.

I ask all Catholics, the greater faith community, and persons of good will to commemorate the Postville raid of May 12, 2008, by remembering in their prayers those hurt by the raid and to work for comprehensive immigration reform so that others will not face similar pain and cruelty in the future.

Declaración de Monseñor John C. Wester, con motivo del Primer Aniversario de las Redadas Migratorias en un Centro Laboral en Postville, Iowa, 12 de mayo de 2009

El día 12 de mayo de 2009 señala el primer aniversario de la que, en aquel entonces, fuera la redada migratoria en un centro laboral más grande de la historia. Desde que esta acción ocurriera, otras redadas de mayor magnitud han sucedido, pero el precedente sentado en Postville y la respuesta compasiva de esta pequeña comunidad en Iowa y de las comunidades de fe subrayan el costo humanitario de las redadas de inmigrantes en los centros de trabajo así como la necesidad de una reforma de las leyes inmigratorias de nuestro país.

Como líderes religiosos, mis hermanos obispos católicos y yo entendemos y apoyamos el derecho y la responsabilidad que tiene el gobierno de hacer cumplir las leyes. Sin embargo, creemos firmemente que las redadas en los lugares de trabajo no resuelven el desafío de la inmigración ilegal. Por el contrario, éstas llevan a la separación de familias estadounidenses y a la destrucción de las comunidades inmigrantes. La redada en Iowa dejó como resultado la separación familiar, un gran sufrimiento, la denegación del derecho a un proceso legal debido y la división de la comunidad.

Nuestra respuesta, religiosa y social, ante tal daño a la dignidad dada por Dios está basada en las Escrituras, las cuales hacen un llamado a los creyentes a dar la bienvenida al recién llegado en nuestro medio, a tratar al extranjero con respeto y caridad, y a proporcionar asistencia humanitaria y pastoral a las personas y a sus familias.

La acción del año pasado en Postville es un recuerdo perturbador de la necesidad de reparar las deficientes políticas inmigratorias en el país.

Pido a todos los católicos, a otras comunidades de fe y a las personas de buena voluntad que oren por todos aquellos que fueron afectados por la redada del 12 de mayo de 2008 en Postville y que trabajen por una reforma integral de las leyes inmigratorias, para que otros no tengan que enfrentarse al mismo dolor y crueldad en el futuro.

Photos: The 2008 raid at Agriprocessors; today many residents of Postville rely on the local food bank as the economy has crumbled.


  1. Yes blog master or whomever wrote this article. Let’s all be merrily happy, open the borders, stop the immigration screening reviews and due processes which although may not be prefect, are there for a reason.
    All who desire to come and stay in the U.S. working or not working, please come in! No appointment needed. If you have a visa, good, if not doesn’t matter, if you have passport and we know who you are, great, if not, no problem, just walk in and find yourself a spot.
    Employers, please feel free to hire anyone that asks for a job. No papers needed, no S.S. number required. If you like to pay taxes we’ll be thankful, but if you prefer to keep the money that’s fine too, the other tax payers will be more than glad to pony up to make up for your share. This is a rich country after all!
    Ah! And don’t forget, when you employees get sick, just tell them to go to the emergency rooms, they’ll be treated at no cost at the tax payers expenses, after all, why should you bother to research and offer and insurance plant for them, they’re just guest in the country and you know, benefits cost money.
    Also, tell them to send their kids to the public schools. Again, the other hard working, tax paying and documented or citizen parents, will be happy to oblige and pay for all.
    But God forbid that one day the immigration agents decide to do their jobs. My goodness! Why are you bothering these hard working men and families? Don’t you see that their employers and the country need them! How mean and cruel you are. No consideration with our guest! After all, they even took the trouble to come in here at their own risk.
    And let’s not forget all those millions of residents and citizens that took the time to apply for a visa under one immigration status or another. Ooooh They are just suckers. They had to put up with paperwork, lawyers, pay money, go through interviews, wait in long lines, take test, wait for years and if they were sponsoring a relative, more and more of the same. Heck, I have a neighbor that had to wait 14 years to bring his sister legally here, but of course, one thing is to swim the Rio Grande and the other is to have to swim half the Caribbean Sea, tough luck!
    And…and remember if someone complains that you are here …well… that you are here, and gives you hard time and wants you to leave of to follow a due legal process, just appeal to the clergy and/or to some liberal bleeding hearts. But if everything fails, just remember the magic word…just scream the word: Discrimination! It works like a charm.
    I guess I am plenty illogical. Right?

  2. Your neighbor may be happy to know that part of what we are asking for in comprehensive immigration reform is to change the family reunification visa system to make it faster and fairer. Fourteen years is a ridiculously long time to wait to bring a relative. But, because of the inequitable visa quotas, if your neighbor had been from a country with a low demand for family visas, e.g. Switzerland, his sister would have been here a long time ago.

    I'm also a tax payer and I would like to see our law enforcement dollars used to rid the country of drug dealers and gangbangers, not hardworking men and women who are performing menial jobs like butchering that Americans no longer seem to want to do.

  3. I am not opposed to immigration and I understand that people need jobs and jobs need people. I am not an insentive person.
    What gets me all fired up, is all that uproar from some about this situation as if that all that wished, have the right to come in and stay any way they want. Then, later when families are broken and separated, the bad guys are those that enforce the law.
    Immigration reform may not stop illegal immigration, although is needed. About the inequitable visa quotas as you mention, they exist for a reason.
    How many people from Switzerland, France or Sweden want to get in?
    How many people from Mexico, Salvador or Dominican Republican or some Asian countries want to get in? If you let them unchecked, half those countries want to get in. Some times because of legitimate need, some other time because of perception that here all is better and easier, when is also hard to live and work in the US.
    I wish that those pressure groups that so defend the illegals and want to extent to them the red carpet, would put their time, energy and effort in pressuring the governments of their countries of origin, so wealth distribution and social justice would improve, creating more opportunities for their citizens, therefore eliminating the need to risk dangerous crossings and to break the law over here.