Immigration: Building Borders, Burning Bridges

We all remember last year's heated immigration debate, but a recent explosion of news stories has brought the issue back into the spotlight with a vengeance. Here we tell you what three seemingly unrelated events mean for nuestra comunidad.

Raid in Postville

The town of Postville, Iowa recently witnessed the largest immigration raid in US history. Nearly 400 employees of Agriprocessors Inc., were arrested on charges of immigration violations. As reported by the NY Times="http:>, 257 illegal immigrants plead guilty and were sentenced over 4 days to serve five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with fraudulent documents. After they serve their sentences, they will be deported back to their country of origin. In interviews following the raids many workers spoke openly about the plant’s inhumane conditions and their inability to speak out due to fear of having their immigration status found out.

This raid signals a severe escalation in the Bush administration's stern position on illegal immigration. Prosecutors brought tough federal criminal charges against most of the workers which was unique since most immigration violations generally fall under civil statutes. Until this raid, few immigrants caught in raids had been charged with federal crimes like document fraud. This unprecedented criminalization of immigration is a first in the history of legal proceedings dealing with these types of violations. Not one company official of Agriprocessors who hired these immigrants (obviously illegally) have been arrested or charged.