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PHOTOS: Today is the 10th Anniversary of Postville, One of Largest Workplace Raids

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Today is the 10th anniversary of an immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, one of the largest workplace raids of all time, which led to the arrests of almost 400 people and decimated a small but diversifying town.

Postville is still known for the anti-immigrant brutality that was shown that day — during the raid, enforcement officials deployed two black helicopters, a line of SUVs, and ten white buses with darkened windows — a ridiculous show of force considering that they were arresting mothers and fathers who were doing nothing but working full-time jobs.

Workers who managed to escape hid in the cornfields overnight. Those who couldn’t called their spouses, family members, and friends, imploring them to take care of their children. So many workers were arrested that they had to be taken to the National Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo, Iowa, to be processed.

In the days and months afterward, half of the local school’s students missed classes and Postville itself was thrown into an economic crisis — both from the sudden disappearance of so many people and from the fact that those left over were too afraid to go outside. Yet the tragedy also allowed the community to shine, as residents banded together to donate goods and services, and St. Bridget’s Catholic Church became the epicenter of the recovery process.

Today in Postville, the raid was commemorated as a Summons “to challenge current anti-immigrant rhetoric and behaviors and to unite in demanding just, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform.” The Trump Administration has vowed to step up workplace raids, and in recent weeks we’ve seen dozens of immigrants picked up in Beantown, Tennessee and Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Advocates and immigrants haven’t seen the last of raids like Postville.

As Fr. Nils Hernandez  wrote in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register today:

The horrors of the Postville raid may seem to be in the distant past, yet increasingly hostile political rhetoric and the adoption of new Department of Homeland Security policy is bringing on a new wave of hardship and fear for our immigrant sisters and brothers…

Ten years ago, the public was aghast and outraged by the militaristic rounding up of people in Postville. The preferred option now is stealth raids, grabbing and deporting our immigrant sisters and brothers individually or in small groups. Meanwhile, members of Congress admit that the immigration system is broken but are paralyzed to reform it.

Those interested in learning more about Postville can watch Abused, the documentary about the raid, here.

Our Political Director, Matt Hildreth, was in Postville (as well as Mt. Pleasant) today. Below are some of his photos and tweets from the event: