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postville iowa

VIDEO: In the Shadow of the Raid


“In the Shadow of the Raid” is a documentary film that explores the devastating effects of the May 2008 immigration raid at the kosher meatpacking plant Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. If you’re a follower of this blog, you know that Guatemala is very close to my heart and watching the footage in the trailer below is all-too familiar for me.

The documentary, which I definitely want to see, will be premiering at the Morelia International Film Festival, in Mexico between Oct. 3 and Oct. 11. This is the type of film that can change hearts and minds about the issue of immigration. Most people in this country view the issue as purely domestic – they can only see our side of the border. I cannot stress enough how important the international perspective is in this debate.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during my time in Guatemala was that decisions we make here, policy we put into action and priorities we create for our country, are felt in a very real and direct way in countries like Guatemala. We are not separate, but interconnected. And the sooner we realize this and take responsibility for our part in this global community, the better.

For more on the documentary, visit IntheShadowoftheRaid.com

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The Postville Raid: A Tale of Two Villages

The village of San Miguel Acatan, in northwest Guatemala

The village of San Miguel Acatan, in northwest Guatemala

If you haven’t already, you should check out Frontline PBS’s latest look at the impact of the Postville, Iowa immigration raid on workers from two Guatemalan villages. Watch the video here.

Guatemala is close to my heart. For two years, I worked with communities in the highlands of the Cuchamatanes mountains in northwest Guatemala. These communities, impacted by globalization, a decades-long civil war and the slow deterioration of an older way of life, are extremely transient. It was rare to meet a family without at least one (usually more) person in el norte. While I work daily to push for comprehensive immigration reform here in the United States, it is never far from my mind that there are much bigger global structures that must be re-examined if we are to combat the gaping inequities created by these structures – a task so big it makes my head spin.

For now, make sure to check out the video at Frontline. It makes my heart ache and it makes me want to go back to Guatemala, just to visit and to listen.

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Postville One Year Later: A Day of Remembrance and Action

Tomorrow, May 12th, marks the one year anniversary of the devastating ICE raid at Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. That day, hundreds of ICE agents descended on the small Iowa town. They brought helicopters, they brought buses and they brought a show of force that would rival any big-budget action flick this summer. Almost 400 workers were arrested and herded like cattle through a “fast-track” version of the American judicial system.

At the time, it was the largest workplace raid in history – sort of mind-blowing to think that since then the raid in Laurel, Mississippi has actually surpassed that number with over 600 people arrested. Postville quickly became symbolic of everything that was wrong with our country’s approach to immigration enforcement, immigration policy, human rights and civil rights. Families were separated, an entire community was destroyed and a small church, St. Bridget’s, was left to deal with the aftermath.

I didn’t come on board at FIRM until one week after the Postville raid, so I couldn’t tell you where I was when I heard the news. But, I can tell you this: witnessing the injustice of the Postville raid cemented my identity as a pro-migrant advocate. Period.

There will be a National Day of Remembrance and Action happening tomorrow. Across the country, communities will hold days of remembrance, will ring bells at 10 AM (the time the raid began) and will don red ribbons in solidarity with the Postville community.

For more information, and to find an action near you, visit the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

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