ICE Raid - Hundreds Arrested

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Mon, 05/12/2008 - 1:37pm.

Federal agents descended upon this northeast Iowa community at about 10 a.m. today to conduct an immigration raid at a meat-packing plant.

Representatives of Iowa's congressional offices said they have been told by federal officials that hundreds of arrests are expected.

A helicopter hovered over the scene, and a number of agents formed a perimeter around the Agriprocessors facility. Vehicles from ICE and at least eight cars and vans from the Iowa State Patrol were at the plant. There were also reports of two moving vans at the scene, along with an ambulance and two black Chevrolet Suburbans.

An Iowa State Patrol vehicle sits this morning at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville.

"There has to be 100 of them," said Chuck Larson, a truck driver for Agriprocessing.

Larson said the agents told workers to stay in place then separated them by asking those with identification to stand to the right and those with other papers to stand to the left.

"There was plenty of hollering," Larson said. "You couldn't go anywhere."


A group of people speak to authorities this morning outside the Agriprocessors plant in Postville. The woman in pink, who gave her name as Maria, said she had family members inside the plant. She said her family members all have U.S. papers and will be released.

ICE spokesman Counts declined to confirm where people who are arrested will be detained. Federal officials have leased the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds in Waterloo, but they declined to explain last week whether the property was being prepared for use as a detention center.

Counts said that each person being arrested would be questioned by ICE and by Public Health Service medical professionals to determine if they have humanitarian issues, including child care giver or medical issues.

"Those interviews will aid ICE in determining whether people will be detained or conditionally released on humanitarian grounds, pending their immigration court appearance," Counts said.

Counts described the events in Postville as a "single site operation." He said he was not aware of any other immigration raids being conducted elsewhere today.

Aides to U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, said they have been told that "hundreds" of arrests are expected because the action is more of an "investigation" than an immigration raid, and specific individuals are being targeted for arrest as part of the investigation.


Jeff Giertz, a spokesman for Braley, said immigration officials left the impression that the Cattle Congress site will be used mainly for processing of suspects rather than any long-term detention.

Postville Police Chief Michael Halse said he did not know anything about the raid until 10 a.m. today.

Iowa Department of Public Safety officials referred all questions to federal authorities. A news conference is scheduled at 2 p.m. today at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids.

Postville is a community of more than 2,500 people with a large immigrant population. Agriprocessors plant is northeast Iowa's largest employer, drawing employees from throughout the world. In the last Taste of Postville festival, nearly 30 different nationalities provided samples of their native foods, the company said.

Postville has described itself as a model for integration of different nationalities because its residents have not segregated themselves, unlike in many other cities that have experienced waves of immigration.


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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Mon, 05/12/2008 - 1:37pm.