ICPJ Newsletter – June 2012
LATF Immigration Article
With a large helicopter hovering over the meat-processing factory, teams of immigration agents stormed the plant and began arresting nearly 400 undocumented workers. Children at school were separated from their parents who had been rounded up, and almost immediately court proceedings commenced despite insufficient legal representation, leading to the imprisonment and deportation of approximately 75% of those arrested. This 2008 mass arrest at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, was the largest immigration raid in U.S. history, though it is certainly not the only one of its kind.
This event is analyzed in the documentary abUSed: The Postville Raid, which the Latin America Task Force (LATF) showed in the final event of the Economic Root Causes movie series in April. The four-event series has encouraged participants to consider how systemic economic factors contribute to war, poverty and environmental destruction.
Important topics covered by the abUSed documentary include family separation, underage worker rights, physical abuse of immigrant workers, the travesty of the legal process following the raid, and the supportive role that faith communities and people of conscience can play.
Immigration has been in the national news again recently, as the Supreme Court recently reviewed the constitutional legality of Arizona’s tough immigration legislation passed in 2010. The court’s decision will come in late June, and if key aspects of the law are upheld, anti-immigrant groups plan to promote similar legislation in other states. This state-by-state enactment of immigration laws demonstrates the need for what is called for in abUSed—comprehensive immigration reform.
Both President Bush and President Obama called for comprehensive reform, but there has been insufficient broad-based support for these efforts. National leaders on both sides of the aisle need encouragement from their constituents if they are to have the motivation and creativity to work for balanced solutions. Kristian Ramos of the Huffington Post identifies three key questions that comprehensive reform must answer: “1) how best to enforce our immigration laws; 2) how to deal with those undocumented immigrants currently here; and 3) [how to] create a process for moving future flows of legal immigration into and out of the country.”[i]
Immigration is not only an issue in Iowa or Arizona. For a local perspective, LATF invited the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) to make a presentation during the abUSed film event. WICIR reports that since March of 2008, more than 260 raids have been carried out in our area. In response, WICIR calls for the end of actions that target immigrants, including:
- any cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the city police department in family home and work-place intrusions;
- the reporting of people to immigration when there is no criminal violation;
- racially profiling immigrants;
- all brutality toward detainees;
- the detainment of immigrants in the absence of proper warrants.[ii]
In recognition that an environment hostile to immigrants has caused economic disruptions in states like Georgia[iii] and Colorado,[iv] a recent campaign—Welcoming Michigan—has been launched, which among other things is “committed to promoting understanding of the contributions that immigrants make to the U.S. and the effects of immigration on our communities, and to challenging common myths and stereotypes.”[v] The Welcoming Michigan campaign is premised on the understanding that at “all levels of our economy, from those who make sure the harvest comes in to those who make sure our advanced manufacturing base stays advanced, a smaller population base means a poorer, weaker, and less competitive Michigan.”[vi]
Because we care about workers’ rights, family integrity, social unity in diversity, and economic sufficiency, we celebrate immigrants, and we work to promote an environment where they can contribute their unique gifts to society. Take action with ICPJ to help educate our community about this pressing issue (see box for details).
Include text box in article reading:
Host a Showing of AbUSed: The Postville Raid for your congregation, group, or organization. ICPJ can provide the film, discussion questions, a discussion leader, necessary equipment, and action step suggestions. Contact _____ to set up a showing.