A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Postville’

What’s happening in Postville, Iowa?

Today’s blog is a compilation of information shared by Sister Carrie Kirsch and affiliate Sharon Chavolla.

First, Sister Carrie shared an update on the trial for Rubashkin. She tells us that this really needs our prayers. “The trial might take months.  The trial in which some Postville Hispanics are to testify is to take place after this trial.  This means they need to stay in Iowa most of the winter.” The Des Moines Register article (Oct. 13, 2009) gives a complete update.

Second, affiliate Sharon Chavolla shared this PBS video in which FRONTLINE/World correspondents Greg Brosnan and Jennifer Szymaszek take a look at the lasting effects a U.S. immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, had on two small villages in Guatemala. It is a 15 minute video which is well worth your time.  Peace.


Postville raid reflection and prayer

It’s guest blogger day!

Rev. Denny Coon, United Methodist Church, FSPA affiliate

On May 12 there was a prayer vigil in Postville, Iowa, commemorating the one year anniversary of the ICE raid on the Agriprocessors plant. I attended to hear the stories.  There’s a holy connection that takes place when someone else’s story intersects with mine. I am even more drawn to situations where it seems most unlikely my story will intersect with another person. What would I, a male Anglo from Iowa, have in common with a young Mexican woman? I learn at these intersections that we all have interests alike and are connected through our stories. Once we intersect, we are no longer aliens, enemies, or foreigners. I find God’s presence in all these stories. We are allies of God. I cannot imagine why anyone who believes in God would be angry with immigrants coming to the USA after they hear their stories.

Here is a prayer I wrote for a prayer service in Waterloo, Iowa, the day before Postville’s vigil:

Worker God, with the wind you swept over the chaos,
You, without a visa, created the light and it was good.
You, without a green card, created the sky and it was good.
You, without a driver’s license, created the dry land and sea and they were good.
You, without a social security number, created the sun and stars and they were good.
You, without a passport , created birds and sea creatures and they were good.
You, without a government petition, created cattle, creeping things, and humankind and called them good.
You, O God,
illegal worker,
undocumented creator,
immigrant parent of us all,
the only home land security we need,
stand in solidarity with all workers everywhere because you have created and called them good.
We give thanks for your unconditional love without borders, without agents, without GPS ankle monitoring devices
Lover of the least and the lost,
Lover of the widow and orphan,
Lover of the alien and the sojourner,
Lover of us all.
We pray for your presence with us on this day when we remember the workers and their families from Postville and the community of Postville. May creation be brought back to your intended order where there is enough food and shelter and work for all. May we all work and have meaning as you intended and as you modeled for us that very first week of work.
For, we look forward to the great Sabbath day when all will worship and rest and sit at table together, feasting at your kingdom banquet.

Rev. Denny Coon

Postville, Iowa: Action alert and May 12 event information

First, Paul Rael, Hispanic Lay Minister at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville, Iowa, requests that we contact our Senators and Representatives to push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We need to end the inhumane treatment the workers from Postville have had to suffer and all people like them throughout the United States. They live with GPS tracking devices attached to their ankles and are not allowed to take them off; as a result there are medical problems. They are not allowed to work or go home at this time. Families have been torn apart and may never be reunited; several businesses have closed and all together the whole community suffers. All they ever wanted was to work, feed their families and provide a better life for their children, a basic need of life that has been denied them.

Thank you for contacting your Senators and Representatives on their behalf. Here’s a Web site that makes contacting your elected officials easy: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Second, here’s the event information for the first anniversary of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on Postville, Iowa.

A Call for Nationwide Awareness and Commemoration of the Postville, Iowa Immigration Raid

Tuesday, May 12 marks the first anniversary of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on Postville, Iowa. To stand in solidarity with the 389 people who were detained and their families, a nationwide day of remembrance has been declared to promote awareness of the devastating effects of raids. The prayer vigil and walk to commemorate the event will be held as follows:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

3:30 p.m. – Gather at St. Bridget’s Church, 141 W Williams St, Postville, Iowa

4:00 p.m. – Prayer Vigil and Remembrance

5:00 p.m. – Solidarity Walk to Agriprocessors

The event is a unified call for comprehensive immigration reform, just labor practices, family unity and an end to raids. Invitations will be sent throughout the country to political and faith leaders, social justice advocacy groups, and all who offered assistance to those affected by the raid, requesting their presence in body or spirit on the day of the event.

On this nationwide day of remembrance and solidarity, we urge faith communities of all denominations to sound a call for justice, e.g., ringing of church bells or blowing of the shofar at 10:00 a.m., the time the raid began.

Text of the prayer vigil and remembrance will be available for adaptation for local use after April 15 at http://www.postvillestbridget.org. Individuals and towns are encouraged to don red ribbons as in Postville on the day of the raid.


FSPA Justice, Peace and Integration with Creation Committee

Immigration and Postville, Iowa

 Hi all, it’s today’s guest blogger, Sister Sarah Hennessey, FSPA

I just returned from a gathering called “Engaging the Impasse of Immigration” sponsored by NETWORK. It was so fabulous that I want to share some of the vision and excitement! There were 25 women religious (sisters and nuns) there from all over the country and a lot from the Dubuque, Iowa, area, including the sister who was the pastoral administrator at Postville. We told stories. We cried. We broke our hearts open and looked at the issue of immigration from many sides. We concluded that stories are important to break through the impasse and find some middle ground. We need fresh language and stories and common ground to live prophetically and to organize for legalized change.

Some action ideas discussed that NETWORK will implement in its next newsletter and in its work with staffers on the hill. Other ideas included a pilot project of engaging the impasse through stories that could be done in northeast Iowa. Also, there is a traveling exhibit on the history of women religious that is starting this summer and the idea was that the local pieces could have a focus on immigration. The anniversary of Postville is May 12, 2009. There will be an event in Postville and we will look at ways to be in solidarity with them. Look for more details about this coming up. With all of our ideas everyone at the gathering committed herself to some action.

What ideas do you have?

Because we found stories to be so powerful, I want to share some that the NETWORK intern, Katrine Herrick, gathered. One is a moving video of a young boy; the next comes from the point of view of the Minutemen; and last is a story of someone picked up in the raid in Postville.

I want to share these stories with you so you can travel into the impasse with me.

Peace in Christ, Sister Sarah

1. Watch “Juan: An Immigrant’s Story

2. While this slideshow is on the Minutemen Web site, I believe that it provides an interesting perspective that leads to a better understanding of why some hold their beliefs. I hope you will let the slideshow play and hold these people and their families and communities in your heart.

3.This is the story of a worker who returned to Guatemala, where most of the detained were from. Vincente Sanail Lopez has warned everyone in his hometown about the consequences they could face for illegally working in the United States. “I’ve told people what happened to me, and they think I’m making it up,” he said in Spanish. He told his neighbors how in May he was arrested with nearly 300 other Guatemalans at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. He told them how he was led away in chains and how he spent five months in prison with drug traffickers and thieves. He told them how he was dumped off at the Guatemala City airport, with nothing but his prison uniform and a warning that if he ever returned to the United States, he could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. For the rest of the article and more stories of the returned, visit the DesMoines Register.

The raid in Postville, Iowa

“Solidarity is a wrenching task: to stand up for justice in the midst of injustice and domination; to take up simplicity in the midst of affluence and comfort; to embrace integrity in the midst of collusion and co-optation; to contest the gravitational pull of domination.” Kwok Pui-Lan
Dear All – It was wonderful to be with so many of you in Postville, Iowa this last weekend. Many thanks to everyone who came along and in particular Sister Julia who did such a wonderful job informing, organizing, and leading the journey.
It was powerful to be with such a diverse group across lines of class, race, gender, religion and age to stand as one body in prayer and solidarity calling for a just answer to immigration reform. The prayer service, march and speeches reflected values of mutuality, inclusion, and equity the very values so desperately needed in the policy and practices coming from the federal government.
I was struck  by a moment in the march as the crowd moved along saying different chants as a whole when four small voices rose above the crowd as these young girls came marching along holding signs and chanting “No more raids!” It was amazing on one hand to see young children involved in the organizing to resist the destruction of their own communities and families. On the other hand I was left with the unsettling question of what has our world become if children need to speak out at a rally to make sure their parents are not taken from them?
A paradox for sure, and I believe paradoxes point us to a deeper place in the heart where our understanding is not of a wholly rational nature but more in the language of hope and vision that opens the door to see a new reality for migrants emerge from all the voices gathered, in particular the voice of our future the children.
Much Peace Liz

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