Immigration Rally Planned in Iowa Meatpacking Town

Amy Lorentzen, AP, July 14, 2008

Immigration reform advocates and religious leaders hope hundreds of people will descend on a small Iowa town this month for a rally in support of workers arrested in a large raid at a meatpacking plant.

Organizers are using the raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. kosher meatpacking plant in Postville on May 12 as an example of what’s wrong with the nation’s immigration laws. Federal officials have called it the largest single immigration raid in the nation’s history.

The rally in Postville, population 2,200, is scheduled for July 27 and was organized by Jewish and Catholic groups from Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

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Most of the 389 workers arrested were charged with using false identification or incorrect Social Security numbers. Two plant supervisors were later charged with aiding and abetting the possession and use of fraudulent identification.

Authorities said some undocumented workers who were sole caregivers for children were allowed to return home with ankle bracelets that monitor their movement. However, immigrant reform advocates claimed those parents aren’t able to find work and must rely on handouts.

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The groups planning the immigration reform rally this month in Postville are St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville, Jewish Community Action of St. Paul, Minn., and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs of Chicago. They promised testimony from people directly affected by the raid, as well as talk about immigration reform and workers’ rights.

“This is a call for justice. This is a call to be faithful to our American and religious values,” Sister Mary McCauley with St. Bridget’s Catholic Church said in a statement. “This is a call to stand in solidarity with our Hispanic brothers and sisters.”

Organizers are worried that the rally could draw too many supporters and are asking that anyone planning to attend register with their groups.

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