One year later, Bishop Wester notes 'human cost' of Postville immigration raid (CNA)

Washington D.C., May 12, 2009 / 10:04 pm (CNA).- Marking the anniversary of the May 12, 2008 immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, the Catholic bishop who heads the U.S. bishops’ immigration committee said the anniversary was a “disturbing reminder” of the “human cost” of enforcement actions. He also called for the reform of national immigration

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The immigration raid, and subsequent bankruptcy of the kosher slaughterhouse (the town’s largest employer), has devastated Postville.

City Clerk Darcy Radloff estimated Postville’s population has dropped from about 3,000 residents to about 1,800 since hundreds of Guatemalan and Mexican meatpacking workers were arrested a year ago.

The burden caused by the havoc has fallen to social-services agencies and religious groups in the community. St. Bridget’s Catholic Church is still spending thousands of dollars a month helping with rent, utilities and health care for the many people out of work since the raid.

A year after the troubles began, Postville has marked the anniversary of Agriprocessors’ descent into trouble, the Associated Press reported. Church bells and shofars - horns used in Jewish religious services - sounded across the city at 10 a.m., the same time last year that the raid began. According to the Des Moines Register, St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville rang 389 times, once for each person who was arrested.

Following the company’s bankruptcy filing, the plant’s closure caused Postville’s number of vacant rental homes to soar. The raid and bankruptcy filing, coupled with the U.S. economic downtown, has nearly grinded the city to a halt. Steve Brackett, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Postville, told AP that he hoped the plant would sell so everything could “return to normal.”

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