A project of the Center for Community Change

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Raid Victims Awarded Visas

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Two days after the one-year anniversary of the Postville raid, 20 workers were awarded work visas under a law that protects crime victims. From the Des Moines Register:

“A government entity has found, indeed, that these women and children have been subjected to extreme emotional or physical harm by Agriprocessors,” Parras-Konrad said. “These people have been exploited, have been assaulted, have been humiliated, have been verbally and emotionally abused by this employer.”

The fact that at least 20 people were eligible to for relief in these cases clearly demonstrates that there were many others who should have seen their day in court and who were, instead, pressured into pleading guilty and promptly deported. Let’s hope the new ID theft decision and these visas mark a change in policy.

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Postville: Leaders Urging for an end to the Raids, while some want to perpetuate the cycle

More than 6 months after the devastating ICE raid in Postville, Iowa, the tiny town is still a buzzing epicenter of the immigration debate.

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Last Wednesday, religious leaders gathered to urge officials from both sides of the aisle in Washington to visit the town and see they aftermath of the tragedy themselves. They also called for an end to the violent ICE raids that have been tearing apart families and destroying communities all across the country.

“Postville is an incredible example of the aftermath and effects” of the irreparable damage an immigration raid can do to a town, he said. The U.S. senators from Iowa, Tom Harkin…

The Rev. David Vasquez was less charitable about the federal actions. The Luther College campus pastor called Postville “the whipping boy” of the government’s “misguided immigration policies,” with a raid set up to serve as an example to other industries that employ immigrants.

Meanwhile, it seems as though some officials in Iowa are continuing to cover their eyes to the realities of the current immigration system. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) praised the raid in Postville, calling it a “step in the right direction” for immigration policy in the United States.

Jeff Tilson police chief of Vinton, a small Iowa town, has said that he will work to ensure that the town doesn’t become “another Postville”. But his tactics are completely ignoring the realities of the broken system.

“The laws on the books work just fine,” Tilson [said]. “We just have to enforce them. I always tell people that I cannot create an environment where crime can’t exist, but I can try to create one where crime won’t exist. We have taken a pretty aggressive stand on illegal immigration.”

It looks like Tilson will be cracking down on immigrants in his small town – a move that is sure to push them even further into the shadows. I’m not sure which policies he’s looking at, but the laws on the books do NOT work just fine, they are outdated, unrealistic and costly (for both communities and the immigrants targeted).

It is time that people woke up to the reality of the current system. We have to find sensible solutions, that include a reform at the Federal level. Until then, these folks will just be perpetuating the cycle of injustice, pain and alienation facing immigrants in the United States today.

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Even when its about uniting, ICE continues to divide

Today is Election Day. A day when unprecented numbers of new voters and new Americans are participating directly in democracy. A day where our Nation unites around one idea – get out and VOTE! But, as usual, ICE proves to be out of step and morally bankrupt.

Today, of all days, ICE followed up on May’s horrifying raid of Agriprocessors in Postville Iowa. So far, reports are only confirming one arrests, but the message is clear – ICE is not down with Postville.

Agriprocessors was the site of one of the largest single-site immigration raids in May. Federal agents detained 389 illegal immigrant workers in an investigation that spurred the national debate over immigration and led to criminal charges against a top executive.

One woman who arrived at the church said agents arrested her husband at the plant, said the Rev. Steve Brackett. Brackett said Postville’s streets emptied quickly as word spread that federal agents had arrived.

“We only have one confirmed report of an arrest right now,” Brackett said. “The assumption is, they’re here for additional people.”

Hasn’t this community suffered enough? Doesn’t the government have a better message to send on Election Day? Our next administration will be inhereting the burden of some serious damage control. First and foremost, stop destroying our communities. Stop the raids.

An advocate for immigration reform criticized the federal action and its timing.

“It’s appalling that the federal agents chose today, Election Day, to spread fear amongst the residents of Postville,” said Marissa Graciosa, director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

Erica Palmer, a community organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, called the action “inhumane and destructive to our community fabric.”

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