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“Devastation and fear”: a film on Postville

A new film brings out the poignant human stories behind the headlines about the May 12, 2008 immigration raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.  Please watch this trailer:

Filmmaker Luis Argueta will speak at a Chicago screening of “abUSed: The Postville Raid,” joined by local immigration rights activists who traveled to Postville to support victims of the raid and by Rev. Steve Brackett of the St. Paul Lutheran Church of Postville.

The screening takes place Wednesday, July 20, at 5 p.m. at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th Street.

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Chicagoans to march in Postville

Members of Chicago’s Jewish and immigrant communities will travel to Postville, Iowa, to participate in an interfaith service, march and rally for immigrant rights on Sunday. On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will be there for a fact-finding visit.

On May 12 Postville was the scene of the largest immigration raid in the nation’s history. Nearly 400 immigrant workers were detained at the AgriProcessors plant, the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, and nearly 300 now await deportation.

That leaves families with over 500 children with no income and struggling to survive, said Tom Walsh of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. He travelled to Postville with other JCUA staff earlier this month to deliver funds from a humanitarian drive the group is conducting for the families of detainees; they went with attorneys from the National Immigrant Justice Center of Chicago’s Heartland Alliance who provided legal assistance.

There’s a pervasive sense of fear in Postville’s Latino community following the raid, Walsh said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before,” he said.

JCUA is cosponsoring Saturday’s events along with St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville, the campus ministry of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and Jewish Community Action in St. Paul. They’re calling for comprehensive immigration reform, family reunification, and just labor practices.

“We have a national immigration policy that is completely flawed,” said Walsh. “And it’s fixable. Why don’t we fix it?”

An interfaith service at St. Bridget’s, 135 Williams in Postville, is planned for 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, followed by a march through the town and a rally with speakers including victims of the raid.

On Saturday, Gutierrez, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s immigration committee, will visit Postville along with Reps. Joe Baca, CHC chair, and Albio Sires, to meet with workers at the AgricProcessors plant, detainees and their children (some of them U.S. citizens) and religious and community leaders.

“An immigration system that is predicated on fear tactics and piecemeal, deportation-only policies profoundly worsens our immigration crisis by creating broken homes and tearing the fabric of our society,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “We have seen exactly that in Postville.”



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