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2 Iowa towns, 2 perspectives on immigration raids
By NIGEL DUARA | Associated Press Writer, April 27, 2009

POSTVILLE, Iowa - For immigrant advocates, the raid on a meatpacking plant in Postville last May was evidence of all that is wrong with large-scale arrests of illegal workers.

Families were hurt, and empty shops and lines at the food bank show that the town was, too. One rental agency says nearly 70 percent of its properties are vacant. The City Council even sought a federal disaster designation because of the lingering effects of the raid on the Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse.
Large Iowa Meatpacker in Illegal Immigrant Raid Files for Bankruptcy
NY Times by Julia Preston, November 5, 2008

The kosher meatpacking company in Iowa that has been struggling with criminal charges and huge fines for labor violations, a dwindling work force and declining demand among Jewish consumers since an immigration raid at its main plant, has filed for bankruptcy.
300 sentenced after immigration raid
AP, June 10, 2008

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth says 300 of the 389 people who were detained after an Immigration raid at the Agriprocessors meat packing plant in Postville have now pleaded guilty and been sentenced on federal felony charges.

Dummermuth says the number of convictions makes it the largest criminal worksite enforcement operation in U.S. history.

Dummermuth says more people detained may yet be convicted.
Critics Want Company Charged After Immigration Raid
By David Pitt, AP Business Writer, June 2, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- After the biggest immigration raid in U.S. history, hundreds of workers have been sentenced but not one company official as yet faces any charges -- something critics say is typical of a federal government that is tough on employees but easy on owners.

Worker advocates and lawmakers say the fact that nearly 400 workers were arrested in the May 12 raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville -- or more than one-third of the total number of employees -- proves that company officials must have known they were hiring illegal immigrants.
Immigration divides GOP pair
By THOMAS BEAUMONT for the Des Moines Register, May 31, 2008

Two of the three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Iowa had differing outlooks Friday on how to solve the federal immigration problem as they debated issues before Tuesday's primary election.

Former state Rep. George Eichhorn said Congress needs to appropriate more money to enforce immigration laws, characterizing the flood of undocumented immigrants into the country as a product of negligence.
270 Illegal Immigrants Sent to Prison in Federal Push
By JULIA PRESTON for the New York Times, May 24, 2008

WATERLOO, Iowa — In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 260 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents. Two others received lesser sentences, while another eight were convicted of a separate crime.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush administration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

The convicted immigrants were among 389 workers detained at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in nearby Postville in a raid that federal officials called the largest criminal enforcement operation ever carried out by immigration authorities at a workplace.
Iowa immigration raid defendant cases completed
Associated Press, May 22, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Nearly 300 workers arrested last week in an immigration raid at a northeast Iowa meatpacking plant have reached plea deals and face deportation proceedings, authorities say.

The U.S. attorney's office said Thursday that 302 workers from the Agriprocessors plant in Postville were charged with federal crimes after the May 12 raid. Of those, 297 have pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison time or probation.

The remaining five have cases pending in federal court. Charges include use of false identification documents and false use of Social Security numbers.

U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth says the operation was the largest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history.
Braley wants tally on immigration raids
Associated Press, May 21, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa - U.S Rep. Bruce Braley wants to know the cost of Immigration raids at meatpacking plants.

The Iowa Democrat has asked federal officials for a tally of last week's raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville and similar action at Swift & Co. plants in Marshalltown and five other Midwest cities in 2006.

In a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, Braley says it's important that his constituents in Iowa and all U.S. taxpayers know how their money is being spent.

ICE spokesman Tim Counts says it's not possible yet to calculate the costs of the Postville operation because it's not over. He says he's not aware of any total costs calculated for the raids at the Swift plants.
Lawsuit: Immigration raid violated workers' rights
By AMY LORENTZEN for the Associated Press, May 16, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The nation's largest single immigration raid, resulting in nearly 400 arrests earlier this week, violated the constitutional rights of workers at a meatpacking plant, a federal lawsuit says.

The lawsuit accuses the government of arbitrary and indefinite detention. It seeks to prevent the government from moving the arrested workers out-of-state as their cases wend through the system.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said he couldn't comment on the lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of about 147 of the workers rounded up Monday at an Agriprocessors Inc. meat processing plant.

The lawsuit was filed against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division and several government officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Most of the arrested workers were held in local jails. The suit notes that other raids have seen detainees transferred for detention far from attorneys, making it difficult to work on their cases.
Hundreds arrested in immigration raid at Postville plant
By HENRY C. JACKSON | Associated Press, May 12, 2008

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Federal Immigration agents on Monday arrested more than 300 people in Postville during a raid at the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant.

The raid by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was the largest in Iowa history, said Matt M. Dummermuth, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.

Dummermuth said the raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in northeast Iowa came after months of planning, beginning in October 2007. Federal agents were helped by state and local police.

Authorities said more than 300 workers were arrested and charged with Immigration violations.
Activists worried about immigration raid in Waterloo
Associated Press, May 11, 2008

WATERLOO, Iowa - Immigration rights activists are concerned that the federal government may be planning an Immigration raid on workers in Waterloo similar to one carried out in Marshalltown in 2006.

Several activists gathered Sunday at a Waterloo church and at the home of a local social worker to discuss what they consider to be an impending raid.

Discussions were prompted by an announcement last week that federal officials have leased the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo.

Immigration activists say they fear the fairgrounds is being prepared as a detention center.
Illegal immigration issues roil Iowa town - Marshalltown, where a quarter of residents are Latino, is seeing rising anti-immigrant sentiments, especially after a deadly car crash involving a woman in the country illegally.
By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2008

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA -- When Monica del Carmen Gonzalez Lopez drove an SUV into the side of a minivan in October, killing a 90-year-old grandmother and injuring three relatives, investigators found that the 23-year-old had already had several brushes with the law.

Some were minor infractions. Others -- including assault, child endangerment and exposing a child to methamphetamine -- were far more serious.

She was also in the country illegally.
Lawmakers can do little against illegal immigration
By: Charlotte Eby for the Tribune, April 19, 2008

State lawmakers waded into the controversial issue of illegal immigration this past week, seeking to address a problem voters have adamantly said they want them to take action on.

The Legislature quickly found there was little they could do to curb it. That role is better filled by the federal government, which lawmakers say has failed to enforce the law.

The House should be given credit for offering some minor solutions.

The measure that passed the House would require employers to check state-issued photo IDs of new employees when they are hiring and sign a form under penalty of perjury to confirm that they checked them.

At the insistence of Republicans, the measure would deny bail to illegal aliens who are arrested. Local law enforcement officials would be required to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they arrest someone in the country illegally instead of a "catch and release" policy.

The legislation also seeks to reduce the abusive practice of hiring workers as independent contractors rather than regular employees. Democrats say it leaves workers without unemployment benefits and means they aren't eligible for workers compensation if they are hurt on the job.

The bill's future remains uncertain in the Senate, with just days left in the legislative session. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs said they'll consider the measure but gave little idea whether it would be debated.

One top Republican is doubtful the measure will ever make it into law and said Democrats would have taken up the measure earlier in the session if they were serious about it.
Iowa House passes immigration bill
By MIKE GLOVER for the AP, April 17, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa - The House approved a bill Wednesday aimed at deterring businesses from hiring illegal immigrants by requiring photo identification for new workers.

The bill, which heads to the Senate, also adds restrictions on the use of independent construction contractors.

Supporters of the bill said they were responding to growing public worries about illegal immigration, though the proposal falls short of what legislative leaders suggested before this year's session began.

Critics called the bill a sham, noting that federal law already requires businesses to check IDs of job applicants.
Fallon: Trade agreements spur illegal immigration
By THOMAS BEAUMONT for the Herald Index, March 28, 2008

Democratic candidate for Congress Ed Fallon said today that scrapping free trade agreements with Mexico and Central America would be good ways to curb illegal immigration.

The former Iowa House member from Des Moines who is challenging U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell in the June Democratic primary said trade policy that insists on higher wages and better working conditions outside the U.S. will diminish the incentive for workers to enter the country illegally.
Manager pleads guilty to immigration charge
The AP, March 26, 2008

DES MOINES, IOWA (AP) -- A man implicated in an immigration scam at a Marshalltown meatpacking plant has pleaded guilty to harboring an illegal immigrant.

Christopher Lamb is a human resources manager at Swift & Company. He was arrested last summer after authorities recorded him coaching an illegal immigrant on how to use fake documents to get hired.

In his plea, Lamb also admitted hiding an illegal immigrant at the plant from June 3rd to June 25th.

Lamb has been sentenced to 12 months of probation.
20 former workers sentenced on immigration charges
The AP, March 18, 2008

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Twenty former workers of a West Burlington company have pleaded guilty to immigration-related charges.

The employees of Iowa Pre-Stressed Concrete were sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court. They were arrested on April 20, 2007 after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement into the use of false social security cards and resident alien cards by the workers.

Sixteen of the workers were sentenced to two years in prison and will be deported after they're released. The other four received credit for time served and are undergoing deportation proceedings, said Mike Bladel, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

The 20 former workers were indicted on various charges of fraud and misuse of documents, false statements in immigration documents, misuse of a Social Security number, unlawful entry after deportation, aggravated identify theft and false claim of U.S. citizenship to obtain employment.
Hensley opposes sanctuary proposal
By Melissa Walker, Des Moines Register, November 21, 2007

Des Moines City Councilwoman Christine Hensley said Tuesday that she is "absolutely and firmly" opposed to any effort to make the capital city a...