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.
Iowa bishops from three denominations have demanded an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy in the wake of a government raid on a large kosher slaughterhouse and allegations of worker mistreatment during relief efforts after June’s floods.
A federal immigration raid with arrests of about 390 people at a meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa, has brought “devastation” to the community, said a Lutheran bishop at an ecumenical prayer service at a Catholic church in nearby Waterloo.
"Mr. Gorbachev—tear down this wall.” Ronald Reagan’s demand in 1987 regarding the Berlin Wall needed no nuancing. It was obvious that many East Germans wanted to enter the politically free and economically prosperous West and that leaders in East Berlin and Moscow could prevent them only by building a physical barrier, guarded by machine guns.
While immigration reform is necessary, four Christian leaders said in a joint appeal last month in Washington, the faith community needs to help bridge the gap between immigrants and a society that often rejects them.
Habakkuk has a complaint. There is violence. There is wrongdoing and trouble. Ruin and strife and contention are in his face. He cries out for help, but God doesn’t seem to be listening. He sounds the alarm, but God does not show up to make things right. As a result, the institutions of law are paralyzed and justice is intermittent.
The collapse of immigration reform legislation is best understood not as a failure of short-term political leadership, but rather as an inevitable long-term consequence of NAFTA. NAFTA’s architects believed that as goods and services began to flow in unprecedented volume throughout the world’s largest free market, low-wage labor would remain largely fixed.Unfortunately, the unleashed forces of the free market uprooted longstanding social and economic arrangements in Mexico and caused the already meager economic opportunities, especially in the rural parts of the country, to evaporate. Millions of Mexican people—the bearers of cheap labor—were compelled to seek out their most rational reallocation.
Recently deported Elvira Arellano, whose yearlong sanctuary in a Chicago Methodist church symbolized for some activists unjust U.S. immigrant laws, said that she envisions little possibility of returning to the United States. “The only thing I can do is stay in Mexico,” she said to the Chicago Tribune in a telephone interview from Tijuana.
I have a recurring nightmare about the final exam on which my college graduation depends. Thinking I am prepared, I open a blue booklet only to discover that I am being tested in a language I do not know. I try to explain that there has been a terrible mistake, but the proctor is unforgiving. I am sent back to my chair to take a test that I have no hope of understanding, let alone passing.