Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the government raid of the Agriprocessors plant in the town of Postville, IA. When the raid had concluded, 389 people (nearly 20% of the Postville population) were arrested and removed from the community for not being able to document their U.S. citizenship.
Immigration is a complex issue; one that I'm not qualified to weigh in on. I understand and respect the reasoning behind the current laws, but my five trips to Mexico City in the past 6 years continue to reinforce my belief that our immigration policy is deeply flawed. I grieve what the government action has done to the community of Postville. In many ways, the "law-abiding" citizens (especially the children) of this rural community have been punished far greater than the undocumented people who were detained.
It's also an issue that is close to the heart of my family. My dad spent much of his youth as a pastor's kid in Postville. He also serves as an ELCA bishop in Northeastern Iowa, which includes the community of Postville. He's spent quite a bit of time in that community in the past year. I sent him a quick note last night asking how the prayer service went.
It was pretty powerful. The Rabbis condemned Agriprocessors. The Archbishop and I both quoted Isaiah. 600-800 people were there.
All the names of those who were arrested were read. It began to sink in just how many people and families have been affected.
Just before the prayer vigil began, a news helicopter flew overhead. The children ran to the sanctuary screaming "ICE! ICE! ICE!" I fear that they may never recover from the invasion.
Jews and Christians stood in solidarity with all the people of Postville. I will remember this day for a very long time.
Here are some of my reflections (on my old blog) on the topic of immigration reform from last year.
Also, a summary of our discussion about immigration with our friends at the Lutheran Center in Mexico City last summer.
And some reports of yesterday's events in Postville from KWWL, Des Moines Register, Sojourners, and a statement from LIRS.
Let the debate continue...prayerfully.