A project of the Center for Community Change


Raid Victims Awarded Visas


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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ACTION: Day of Remembrance for Postville

Below is an action being organized by St. Bridget’s Church, the first responders on the frontlines of the raid in Postville, Iowa. Its hard to believe that we are approaching the one year anniversary of that day.

I remember listening to Sister Mary McCauley of St. Bridget’s speak out about the destruction brought by the raid. It seems only fitting that she is organizing this action to remember the event and to call for an end to the raids.

A Call for Nationwide Awareness and Commemoration

of the Postville, Iowa Immigration Raid

May 12, 2009

Tuesday, May 12 marks the first anniversary of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on Postville, Iowa.

To stand in solidarity with the 389 people who were detained and their families, a nationwide day of remembrance has been declared to promote awareness of the devastating effects of raids.

The prayer vigil and walk to commemorate the event will be held as follows:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

3:30 p.m. – Gather at St. Bridget’s Church, 141 W Williams St, Postville, Iowa

4:00 p.m. – Prayer Vigil and Remembrance

5:00 p.m. – Solidarity Walk to Agriprocessors

The event is a unified call for comprehensive immigration reform, just labor practices, family unity and an end to raids.

Invitations will be sent throughout the country to political and faith leaders, social justice advocacy groups, and all who offered assistance to those affected by the raid, requesting their presence in body or spirit on the day of the event.

On this nationwide day of remembrance and solidarity,

  1. We urge faith communities of all denominations to sound a call for justice, e.g., ringing of church bells or blowing of the shofar at 10:00 a.m., the time the raid began.
  2. Text of the prayer vigil and remembrance will be available for adaptation for local use after April 15 at www.postvillestbridget.org.
  3. Individuals and towns are encouraged to don red ribbons as in Postville on the day of the raid.

Media Contact: Sister Mary McCauley, BVM

Email: mmccauley@bvmcong.org

Phone: 563.581.6877

Prayer Vigil text available after April 15 at www.postvillestbridget.org

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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.


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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