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Postville Raid Puts Immigration Reform Back Before Voters

May 14, 2008

Des Moines IA – Aftereffects continue to be felt from this week's immigration raid at the Agriprocessors packing plant in Postville, the largest such workplace raid in U.S. history, with almost 400 people arrested.

Amalia Anderson is with the Main Street Project, a grassroots policy and organizing group which concentrates on rural communities and has worked with immigrant groups in other Iowa localities that have been raided. She says the big raid has put the entire Latino community in Postville on edge.

"If you are perceived to be Latino in many of these communities, both during and after a raid you live with constantly having to justify yourself in the face of questions of 'who are you?' and 'why are you in this country?'"

Immigration officials and proponents of the raids say they're simply enforcing the law, but Anderson says that long after the federal agents are gone, there are continued repercussions.

"There are long-term effects on a community, not just for Latino immigrants or any immigrants, but really the community at large, because of the economic effects of a raid, the psychological kind of turmoil that it creates in a community."

Anderson says federal agents raided the Swift packing plant in Marshalltown 18 months ago, and that community still hasn't recovered from the arrests and ensuing deportations.

Dick Layman/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - IA