Monday, August 4, 2008

On Point: On Postville

NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook nailed the Postville, IA story last week. Click on "Listen to this Show" and get the info direct from the source.

But if you lack the 45ish minutes it takes to listen to the show, let me hit a few important highlights:

The raid was conducted as a criminal--not an immigration--raid. This explains the Blackhawk helicopter, agents clothed in black riot gear crawling the roof and wielding AK-47's we saw on local news coverage.

Thus the raid and subsequent processing of the apprehended workers was "a major assault on democracy." The system bypassed due process and constitutional rights. e.g. The 6th Amendment right to reasonable bail was unavailable due to the immigration status of the accused.

The government cooked up a "scheme" to unite criminal and immigration proceedings. This is one ploy of totalitarian governments. The accused were presented a package deal plea agreement which required them to waive their immigration rights. Now they've been sent around the country to serve their sentences of 5 1/2 months.

A special court room was set up in a "ballroom" at the National Cattle Congress grounds into which the accused were herded for arraignment in groups of 10 at a time to face federal proceedings, despite the fact that these were each individual cases. With all prosecuted in one week's time--it perhaps set a speed record in the U.S.!

Workers' testimonies reveal a "slave-like" working environment at Agriprocessors, including reports of a man with eyes duct-taped shut being beaten with a meat hook.

It goes on and on. Outrageous. Quote from one program caller: "I want to see the CEO's do some time."

And so do I. (Further investigation are underway.)


Robert Rouse said...

The New York Times ran a LONG story this weekend about Luis Jiminez, a Guatemalan illegal who was both mentally and physically injured in a automobile accident caused by a Floridian who stole a van and was driving drunk. A Florida hospital, without government approval or oversight, sent him back to Guatemala where he is deteriorating today. It turns out this practice is a lot more prevalent than you would even believe.

eProf2 said...

Good catch BE. The NPR review was very well done. Thanks.

Border Explorer said...

RR, that story is what journalism is all about. Thanks for the link.

eProf, glad you liked On-Point. This story is a powderkeg. Now the ACLU is considering action.

FranIAm said...

I need to go listen to that- it will have to be later.

This is disgraceful. I feel like I am screaming into the wind sometimes.

DivaJood said...

In keeping with this ongoing obscenity of human decency, I watched the film, "Fast Food Nation", over the weekend. All the undocumented Mexicans who were working at the fake meat packing company in the film were at the mercy of a rather cruel system - and had absolutely no recourse should there be an accident. In the film, two workers were injured on the line - one lost his legs in a meat grinder (which did not halt production, and the legs became part of the chain of fast food burgers.) The other, with broken ribs, was told that he had no case because he was using speed on the line. Not true, but that's the official word.

So, the Postville Plant Raid is a real version of this, and on a grander scale.

Any time we walk into a McDonald's or Burger King, or any other fast food place, we support these meat packing plants and their illegal practices. The speed of the lines breeds accidents; the speed, the hiring of illegals at below minimum wage, all designed to increase profit - we can bring it to an end by not buying factory-raised fast food (I use the word "food" loosely) - by organic meat, organic, free-range poultry and beef - or no meat at all - there are solutions.

Border Explorer said...

Diva (you are sooo wonderful), yes! Those choices force me/us to change, to sacrifice, to spend more money for our commodities or to raise our own. By Zeus, it's all fine and dandy to preach on a blog all day...but any of these choices you mention are worth far more than all of our words.

Renegade Eye said...

One of my comrades went to Postville, IA. The demonstrators were met by Minutemen there.

The state has been increasing repression against immigrants, to stop the mobilizations that occured two years ago. The mobilizations leadership themselves were curtailed by promises from Democrats that never occured.

I expect a rebirth of the movement.

For unconditional amnesty.

Randal Graves said...

Groups of 10 at a time? Funny, didn't they agree to postpone the Ted Stevens proceedings because he's up for reelection?

Borders are arbitrary, but we're all humans. The problem is, say something like that to someone who ISN'T a corporate wingnut and you'll still get eyes rolled at you. This shit is so institutionalized, so ingrained. Making a decision with your dollar is the best thing one can do on a daily basis, but it'll never be enough because it's just 'easier' to go through the drive-through for so many.

Border Explorer said...

Renegade, I'll be first in line to sign up for the movement.

Randal, yeah: great irony on Stevens. But then he's white, male, incumbent, senator, etc., etc.

I can't control what others do with their bucks, but I can control me (well, ahem, occasionally...not always).