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Town Struggles One Year After Immigration Raid
May 15, 2009

To commemorate the first anniversary of the Postville, Iowa, immigration worksite enforcement action, Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration released a statement recalling the humanitarian cost of such actions and calling, once again, for the reform of our nation immigration policies.

“My brother Catholic bishops and I understand and support the right and responsibility of government to enforce law,” said Bishop Wester. “We strongly believe, however, that worksite enforcement raids do not solve the challenge of illegal immigration. Instead they lead to the separation of U.S. families and the destruction of immigrant communities.”

Bishop Wester called families to pray for “those hurt by the raid and to work for comprehensive immigration reform so that others will not face similar pain and cruelty in the future.”

“The Postville action of a year ago is a disturbing reminder of the need to repair the nation’s broken immigration policies,” said Bishop Wester.

Three hundred eighty-nine workers at the Agriprocessors Inc., facility were arrested and plant supervisors, including former top executive Sholom Rubashkin, were charged. Many workers were deported, and the plant is now for sale in bankruptcy proceedings. The aftermath of the raid saw families torn apart, and the community's economy was dealt a hammer blow. The Gazette reports that "Postville residents say the raid tore the town apart — decimating the lives of hundreds, plunging landlords and local businesses into near financial ruin and destroying the entire social fabric of society."





Statement of Most Reverend John C. Wester

May 12, 2009, marks the one-year anniversary of what was, at the time, the largest work site immigration enforcement action in history. Since that raid in Postville, Iowa, larger raids have occurred, but the precedent set at Postville and the accompanying compassionate response by that small Iowa community and its people of faith underscore the humanitarian costs of workplace immigration raids as well as the need for reform of our nation’s immigration policies. 

As religious leaders, my brother Catholic bishops and I understand and support the right and responsibility of the government to enforce the law. We strongly believe, however, that worksite enforcement raids do not solve the challenge of illegal immigration. Instead, they lead to the separation of U.S. families and the destruction of immigrant communities. The result of the Postville raid was family separation, immense suffering, denial of due process rights and community division.

Our religious and social response to such harm to our God-given human dignity is based on Scriptures, which call believers to welcome the newcomers among us, to treat the alien with respect and charity, and to provide pastoral and humanitarian assistance to individuals and their families.

The Postville action of a year ago is a disturbing reminder of the need to repair the nation’s broken immigration policies.

I ask all Catholics, the greater faith community, and persons of good will to commemorate the Postville raid of May 12, 2008, by remembering in their prayers those hurt by the raid and to work for comprehensive immigration reform so that others will not face similar pain and cruelty in the future.


Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946