For the past several months the debate over U.S. immigration policy has centered on the tiny town of Postville, Iowa. In May, government officials descended on the town and arrested almost 400 immigrants who worked at a kosher meat processing plant. Close to 300 of the workers, most of whom are from Guatemala, were convicted of fraud. Also arrested were two employees of the company, Agriprocessors, who were charged with harboring illegal immigrants.
The raid was an apocalyptic event for Postville. The plant had been the economic backbone of the town of 2,300. After the raid, about half the town’s workforce was unemployed. Hundreds of families lost their primary source of income. Many of them turned to St. Bridget’s Catholic Church for food and for legal, moral and spiritual support.