Saturday, July 12, 2008

More Than His Interpretation: An Inside Perspective on ICE Raid in Postville, IA...and what it may mean for you!

Today's New York Times records the splintering of silence. A 23-year veteran, certified Spanish interpreter for federal courts broke the code of confidentiality in a highly unusual act of protest to what he witnessed in the prosecution of the workers apprehended in Postville, IA May 12 at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant. He cites:

  • Most of the workers did not understand the criminal charges they faced.
  • Workers didn't understand the rights they were waiving.
  • The rapid pace of the proceedings was remarkable.
  • Prosecutors upped the ante in a highly unusual way by pressing criminal charges instead of deporting the workers immediately for immigration violations.
  • Defense lawyers had little time or privacy to meet with their court-assigned clients in the first hectic days after the raid.
  • Most of the Guatemalans could not read or write. Most did not understand that they were in criminal court.

Professor Camayd-Freixas, who is the director of a program to train language interpreters at Florida International University, has stirred controversy among legal interpreters because of his "highly unusual" stance here. He may be called to testify before the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee. What a heroic act: to courageously call this kangaroo court process into question.

I urge you to watch the video on the Times site in which the Professor cogently explains the travesty. The post-ICE raid legal processing is a direct result of the Patriot Act, he says.

Taking shortcuts with justice in this case against undocumented workers in this country is another slip taking us further down the slippery slope. Eventually it may well affect citizens like you and me.

Please go to the site of the Times article and watch the video (I can't embed here) while the link still works. The Professor's testimony is convincing, his empathy is unmistakable. How rare and wonderful to experience a hero in action!

First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.
--Pastor Martin Niemöller, about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Photo credit: NY Times--"Erik Camayd-Freixas is a certified Spanish interpreter."


FranIAm said...

Wow - this is huge.

Sorry it took me a day to get here.

I will repost my post later and include a link to your update.

Border Explorer said...

Thanks, Fran, for passing along the news on your blog which gets lots of visits. It will really help get the word out.

I posted today with bigger news--a Sunday NY Times editorial on the subject. That will, I hope, shine a big searchlight of truth on this dingy (to say the least) operation.

Diane said...

I came here through Fran. I am very interested in these immigration issues and in immigration reform. I have to admit some mixed feelings about Postville, because of the terrible conditions and substandard wages I have HEARD were in those plants.

That being said, then the employers ought to be prosecuted rather than the workers.

I agree with you re: the SSNs that there was no intent to fraud. People just want to feed their families, and the immigration system is so broken, they don't know what to do.

Border Explorer said...

Welcome, Diane. I look forward to reading your blog.

You're right on the plant conditions: criminal. Finally this month there were some arrests of middle management at the Agriprocessors plant as seen in this article.

The meatpacking plant jobs are extremely difficult, thus unattractive, so undocumented workers supply the gap. Agriprocessors may have been worse than other plants of its type. Is that where your mixed feelings arise in this case? I'm not clear on your meaning, and I welcome your comments.

A huge problem I see: illegal jobs. We're in complete agreement that the companies should pay the price for their criminal behavior/policies. It's not the employees who should be doing time in prison.

Diane said...

yes, my mixed feelings have to do not with the workers, who are just trying to feed their families, but with the fact that THEY are being exploited, and they can be exploited because of their fear, and they are afraid because of the fact that they are here without documents. the system needs to be fixed so that people who do work can get papers, and then they can't be exploited.

Border Explorer said...

Yes, Diane, the system needs a complete overhaul!

Get this: just days after the Postville raid, Guatemalan newspapers ran ads recruiting for an "excellent opportunity" for work in Postville, IA. Here's the link.

What next?