As in most US cities, immigrants have always been the backbone of the economy and culture of the small Iowa town, Postville. The town was settled by Norwegian and German Lutherans and Irish Catholics, and it is now home to a diverse community of Hasidic Jews, Eastern Europeans, Guatemalans, Mexicans, and Somalis. Postville was once home to people from 24 nations, speaking 17 languages.
The peaceful reality of this microcosm of the American landscape was violently interrupted on May 12, 2008 when federal agents invaded Postville to conduct the largest immigration raid in U.S. history. The raid cost Postville one-fourth of its pre-raid population of 2,300.
Monica Rhor at myway news examines the effects of the Postville raid 3 months later. Displaced immigrants and other Postville residents discuss the jolting effects the raid has had on the town and its residents. The immigrants who escaped federal agents are monitored by tethers and no longer allowed to work. Without a stable income, they fear they will fail to provide opportunities for their families. Other Postville residents are apprehensive about experiencing a drastic cultural shift in their town.
ICE spokesman, Tim Counts, claims no liabilities for "any disruption, whether to families or communities," since illegal immigrants are no different than common criminals in the eyes of the federal government.
One now-unemployed single mother speaks for the community of criminalized workers when she says, "We came here to work, not to do harm to anyone."
Having experienced the horrible unintended consequences of our country's broken immigration policy first hand, Postville residents are calling for immigration policy reform. Postville's high school principal, Brian Gravel, notes: "What happened here is a microcosm of what's happening in the country. If nothing is done, there will be many many more Postvilles around the country, and that's not healthy for anyone."
For more on immigration policy and the American situation, check out Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia discussing the question of whether or not "American is still built to receive those huddled masses" at Bloggingheads.tv.