Quoting the Times:
Dr. Camayd-Freixas’s essay describes “the saddest procession I have ever witnessed, which the public would never see” — because cameras were forbidden.
“Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the slaughterhouse workers were brought in for arraignment, sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before marching out again to be bused to different county jails, only to make room for the next row of 10.”
He wrote that they had waived their rights in hopes of being quickly deported, “since they had families to support back home.” He said that they did not understand the charges they faced, adding, “and, frankly, neither could I.”
The Times editorial suggests that the Bush administration succumbed to pressure by immigration extremists in ICE's show of power against people who faked identities--but not to fraud or to rob, but simply to earn money for their families. In the video posted on the site of yesterday's article*, the professor-translator tells the Times that the workers did not even know what social security numbers were (thereby invalidating the "intent to fraud" necessary in a conviction of this crime). He felt certain they were honest when admitting this because, "They spoke with shame, as though they were embarrassed by their ignorance."
Workers received a 5 month sentence for a guilty plea. A "not guilty" plea required 6-8 months of jail time while waiting for a trial which, if lost, would entail two years in prison. However, the workers' guilty plea and resultant jail sentence leaves their families in Postville stranded without income. This entire situation is intolerable.
*I urge you to follow the link and view the video. These links are time-sensitive.