On Friday, May 11, 2018, the tenth anniversary of the Postville, Iowa, Immigration Raid will be observed in Postville. It will be a time to remember the 389 persons who were arrested on May 12, 2008, to recognize this defining moment as a Summons to challenge current anti-immigrant rhetoric and behaviors, and to unite in demanding just, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform.
The day will begin with a 10 a.m. Interfaith Prayer Service at St. Bridget Catholic Church in Postville, where frightened family members and immigrants gathered and stayed in the immediate aftermath of the raid. Expected participants include persons directly affected by the raid, church representatives who ministered to the immigrants and their families, lawyers who witnessed the injustice, and others concerned about immigration reform.
At 11:30 a.m., participants will walk to Meyer Park—close to the site of the raid—for a noon rally to highlight the human face of the immigration issue. Reform advocates will call for renewed resolve to work toward a comprehensive, just solution to the current impasse. A trumpet fanfare composed by Dr. Amy Dunker of Clarke University, “Summoned, Addressed, Commanded” will musically proclaim the theme of the observance.
A decade ago, the largest single-site immigrant raid at the time in the history of the United States occurred in Postville. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials raided Agriprocessors, the main producer of kosher meat in the United States. They handcuffed immigrants and bused them to the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa.
Most detainees were charged with identity theft and sentenced to five months in prison before being deported. In a matter of hours on that day, Postville lost a significant segment of its population and hundreds of families were torn apart.
Sholom Rusbashkin, owner of Agriprocessors, was convicted and served eight years of a 27-year sentence for bank fraud. His sentence was commuted in December 2017, by President Donald Trump.
Little has changed since 2008. The interfaith planners of the commemoration see this as a “a call to demonstrate bold resolve by championing the rights of immigrants, respecting and defending their inherent dignity, and by welcoming them and their many contributions to our society.”
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