abUSed: The Postville Raid
February 14, 2011
Sachar International Center
The film tells the story of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s massive raid on the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in the sleepy town of Postville, Iowa in 2008. The raid made national and international headlines for the following reasons:
* At the time, it was the largest immigration raid in U.S. history. Nearly 400 immigrant workers, mostly Guatemalans, were rounded up by ICE and charged with identity theft; the majority were jailed and deported.
* The charges against the workers were so excessive, and the miscarriages of justice so great, that the court-appointed translator at their trial broke his professional silence to denounce the proceedings. Many of the workers were native Maya speakers, and could not understand the aggravated charges to which they were pressured to plead guilty. The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that federal prosecutors inappropriately aggravated identity theft laws to prosecute undocumented workers. Lawmakers and labour leaders criticized the Bush administration for going after workers rather than prosecuting employers who knowingly recruit and profit from the use of undocumented workers.
* The raid forever changed not only the tiny community of Postville, but also the rural Guatemalan communities from which many of the workers hailed. With Postville only having some 2,200 total inhabitants, the raid removed more than 20% of the town’s population. The film takes us from rural Iowa to rural Guatemala, with stops in Washington DC courtrooms along the way.
* The raid stimulated much debate among members of the Jewish community about whether or not the requirements for kosher certification should include a provision on the ethical treatment of workers in the production process. For more info, see the New York Times article.
If you’re a Brandeisian interested in social justice, immigrants’ rights, the ethics of kosher production, and labour rights, PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS SPECIAL SCREENING AND TALK WITH DIRECTOR LUIS ARGUETA! What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than getting together with like-minded folks to watch an awesome movie and discuss the very issues that are dearest to our hearts?