Friday, May 15, 2009

Postville: One Year Later

By Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas

It’s been a year since the largest immigration raid in U.S. history. That was the day Pedrito’s Mom was taken, and he has not seen her since. For Postville, May 12 is a day that will live in infamy.

A year later, the welcome signs still stand: “Iowa, Fields of Opportunity,” “Postville, Hometown to the World,” and “Agriprocessors, A Great Place to Work!” The town would like to forget and move on, but nothing will ever be the same. Four times the world has come to Postville to mark its rise and fall: the Railroad (1864), Barnum & Bailey (1915), Agriprocessors (1987), and the Feds (2008).

There was a time when folks of 24 nationalities, speaking 17 languages, found their dream of freedom in this two-square-mile community with no traffic lights, nestled amid a sea of cornfields. The town was hailed as a model of ethnic integration for communities across the country. “I wish you had seen my town as it was before,” a teary local muttered. “It used to be a success story.”