photo at right: Residents of Postville, IA, site of
largest raid ever conducted in the U. S. by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) on May 13, 2008, regroup themselves in local church after the raid.
Regular readers here know that ICE justified its existance by executing a hugely successful operation, apprehending nearly 400 undocumented workers at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant. (BTW, the May 15 Border Explorer post by a Postville teacher now is verified here at this website.)
Readers unfamiliar with this situation can get up to speed in a few minutes with this video. It's horrifying. Even if you already know the story, it's well worth your time:
Did that fill you with patriotic pride? Do you feel safer now?
Well, it ain't over 'till it's over...and the fat lady hasn't sung yet. The pain, a legacy of the raid, continues in Postville. ICE perhaps has gone home, but the havoc in their wake has not vanished as quickly. Yesterday Fran-I-Am posted on the heroic efforts of Postville church ministers to pick up the pieces.
Pastor David Vazquez, a campus minister in nearby Decorah, IA, reports that Postville always welcomed the immigrants, eager to reverse a declining population and revitalize its economy. Now it is left as it was 20 years ago. In a town of 2,300, 400 of its citizens, more than 1 in 6, was arrested. The streets are quiet, the businesses desperate and nearly everyone--immigrant and non-immigrant alike--affected.
Specific problems today in Postville (according to Pastor Vazquez in a July 3 communication from the non-profit Centro Legal):
* The women and children who are on monitoring devices and waiting for their criminal and immigration hearings "don't have anything and they are in need of basic goods like food, housing and baby formula."
*Many rumors ICE will strike again: "People are constantly asking us, ‘Do you know whether or not they will return'?"
*Lack of legal advice and assistance for other immigrants in the community who were not detained. "While some have legal remedies, the legal support is insufficient to address the overwhelming need."
*While the churches received generous donations after the raid, now "the resources are nearly gone because the town is so small and such a large proportion of it has been impacted."
David's short list of Postville needs:
*funds to cover the basic legal representation of those affected. These folks are hard working people, many of whom have been victims of a variety of labor and other crimes, and need support in advocating for their basic rights
*supporting nearly 60 families who are required by the conditions of their humanitarian release to remain in the community until their legal and immigration cases run their course.
*support the families of 270 people who have been given a 5 month sentence-their needs are both financial and emotional.
*emotional needs of children whose parents have suddenly disappeared, women whose inability to find their husbands, brother or other relatives (as it has been very difficult to track the location of people in the jail system) echoes their own difficult experience in their country of origin.
The Postville Relief Effort Priority List and Cost Estimate is worth a look.
Simply to do the minimum, the ESTIMATED TOTAL RESPONSE NEEDS is $681,200.00. (Follow the link for analysis of the bottom line.)
And that, my friends, is the cost of ICE bragging rights. For now.