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Communities mark 9/11 with calls for solidarity

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, community interfaith gatherings will remember victims and the spirit of unity with which the nation responded to the attacks.

And one ongoing Jewish-Muslim collaboration founded in the days following the 2001 attacks is rededicating itself to work together “toward a more inclusive, diverse, and just society.”

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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.”

JCUA awards

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs is presenting its Courageous Voices Award to People’s Law Office, Telpochcalli Community Education Project, and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin — at JCUA’s annual meeting on Tuesday, July 1, 6:30 p.m. (reception at 5:30) at the Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan (9th floor).

Long an advocate for victims of police abuse and wrongful conviction, People’s Law Office was instrumental in uncovering the Burge torture ring inside the Chicago Police Department.

Founded in 1998 to advocate for creation of a multipurpose cultural facility adjacent to Telpochcalli School, Telpochcalli Community Education Project has evolved into an innovative nonprofit offering ESL and literacy programs along with youth leadership development, immigrant rights, and health programs.

JCUA will also give the 2008 Voice of the Future Award to Tahli Hanuka, a recent graduate of Francis Parker High School.  Through JCUA’s teen social institute program, Hanuka has worked on a lead awareness program in Englewood, Jewish-Muslim youth activities, and Chicago Youth Initiating Change.

JCUA on Postville raid

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs will launch a humanitarian fund to help the families of  immigrants detained May 12 at a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Indiana.  It was the largest workplace raid at a single site in U.S. history.

JCUA is “outraged by the manner in which the immigration raid was conducted and by its devastating impact on the more than 300 people it has detained and on their families, which were left unable to pay for housing, food or legal fees,” said executive director Jane Ramsey in a statement.

Noting a growing consensus that the U.S. immigration system is “inconsistent, ineffective and inhumane,” Ramsey said, “Major U.S. industries are run on the backs of immigrant workers — underpaid, uninsured, unprotected individuals — and the capricious ICE round-ups, incarceration and deportation of these workers represent further abuses of their human rights.”

She called for swift enactment of comprehensive immigration reform and called on President Bush  “to reverse the charges against these workers and allow them to return to their families and communities.”

JCUA said 56 detainees, including 18 juveniles, were released with ankle bracelet monitors and another 300 are slated for deportation.

JCUA also expressed concern over reports of abuse of workers and mistreatment of animals at the AgriProcessors plant.



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        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]
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