Revolution #139, August 10, 2008

Protesting Massive ICE Raid in Iowa

On Sunday July 27, over a thousand people marched through Postville, Iowa, to protest ICE raids on May 12 of this year at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant. From May 19 to May 22, nearly 300 immigrant workers who had been seized in the raid were convicted of criminal charges in mass “trials” at a National Cattle Congress fairground facility in Waterloo, Iowa, and given five-month jail sentences after which they will be deported. The raid was the largest immigration raid at a single workplace in U.S. history.

Because Agriprocessors is a kosher meatpacking facility, many Jewish people have felt a need to step out, protest the ICE raids and conditions at the plant, and take a public stand with the immigrant workers. The July 27 march was initiated by Jewish groups in Chicago and St. Paul, and Saint Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville—the church that opened its doors to immigrants seeking sanctuary. Protesters included Guatemalan and Mexican immigrants living in the Postville area, immigration rights and anti-war activists, Midwest farmers, white youth from Postville, Black and white students from a nearby liberal arts college, kids from a Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin, and the mayor of Postville. They marched to the Agriprocessors plant, and faced a reactionary counter protest of about 75 MinuteMen.

The Agriprocessors raid was a leap in fascistic repression against immigrants. Parents and children were ripped apart in a way reminiscent of how the families of Black slaves were torn apart when parents or children were sold to other plantations. Exposure emerging out of Postville is revealing vicious superexploitation in the heartland of the USA. And the whole situation provides a window into the workings of a system that has brought an influx of immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Africa, and Eastern Europe to places like Postville, Iowa, desperate to feed their families because of what capitalism-imperialism has done to their countries.

Revolution reporters have been in Postville investigating this story—interviewing immigrant workers, public officials, activists, and attorneys. Stay tuned for in-depth reporting and exposure.  

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