A project of the Center for Community Change

Today Marks One Year since Postville

red ribbon

Today, people across the country are holding vigils, ringing bells, calling their Congressman and donning red ribbons in remembrance of the May 12th, 2008 ICE raid in Postville, Iowa.

I had big plans to write a long post about the raid, one year ago today, in Postville. I was new to the immigration debate at the time, and spent much of my first months as a pro-migrant blogger keeping up with the developments of the Postville aftermath. I interviewed people on the ground, wrote case studies on rapid response, attended a House Judiciary Hearing on raids and blogged about all of the outrageous injustices that came to light after the fact. However, as I sat down to write this morning, I realized that I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.

From the NY Times last August:

The harsh prosecution at Postville is an odd and cruel shift for the Bush administration, which for years had voiced compassion for exploited workers and insisted that immigration had to be fixed comprehensively or not at all.

Now it has abandoned mercy and proportionality. It has devised new and harsher traps, as in Postville, to prosecute the weak and the poor. It has increased the fear and desperation of workers who are irresistible to bottom-feeding businesses precisely because they are fearful and desperate. By treating illegal low-wage workers as a de facto criminal class, the government is trying to inflate the menace they pose to a level that justifies its rabid efforts to capture and punish them. That is a fraudulent exercise, and a national disgrace.

When I read those last lines, I realized how far away I feel from that moment. So much has changed since then – our President, our allies and the tone of the debate itself. I feel much more hopeful about the direction we are moving. There are certainly things that I would change about the current approach – i.e. the massive amount of funding that just went to border and interior enforcement or the court system that allowed an all-white jury to acquit three teenagers of a brutal, racially motivated murder.

But, today, in remembrance of Postville and the families, lives and communities desroyed a year ago, I’m choosing to feel optimistic. I’m choosing to believe that we have too much momentum and too much strength to not win change this year.  So much has changed, but for the people of Postville, even more has changed. The town still suffers and some of the immigrants arrested that day are still caught in the limbo of the broken system. So today, in solidarity with Postville, I’m choosing to ACT in the belief that it is up to us to create the change we want. You can too.

  1. Call your Representative or Congressman and tell them that you support Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
  2. Attend a Remembrance Vigil in your area – for a map of vigils click here.
  3. Don a Red Ribbon in solidarity with the Postville community.

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