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Latino Legislators of the Week, Congressmen Baca, Gutierrez, and Sires – Meeting with the Postville Community regarding the Immigration Raids

July 29th, 2008 · 4 Comments

This week I decided to select three Latino Legislators of the Week. On Saturday, Reps. Joe Baca (D-CA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Albio Sires (D-NJ) met with the members of the Postville community at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church to discuss the recent immigration raids in the small Iowa community.

The Congressmen heard three hours of informal testimony describing the unjust tactics used by federal agents in the May raid at the Agriprocessors Meat Plant, the country’s largest Kosher meatpacking plant, in which almost 400 arrests were made.

The testimony became emotional as women described how their husbands had been detained, minors working in horrendous conditions, and the overall impact on families and the community at large.

I’m hopeful that Congressmen Baca, Gutierrez, and Sires will act upon the testimony that they heard and do everything they can to stop the immigration raids. As is evidenced in the Postville, IA community, these raids do not work and only place blame on these victims of economic turmoil instead of the large businesses that hire them.  

More than 300 of the people arrested in the raids were convicted of criminal aggravated identity theft, which requires one to knowingly steal a person’s identity for personal such as to run up credit. Congressman Gutierrez stated that many of the immigrants who were arrested were likely illiterate and could not have knowingly used someone else’s identity. Usually, undocumented immigrants are charged with a noncriminal offense and are deported.

Sometimes our leaders need to make personal appearances in places where our community feels pain. Congressmen Baca, Gutierrez, and Sires don’t represent Postville, Iowa, but they represent areas with substantial immigrant populations who are subject to experiencing similar ICE enforcement actions. Hopefully, this visit will help these men become more forceful advocates for just immigration reform.

On Sunday, there was a rally spearheaded by the Jewish Community Action group of St. Paul, Minnesota to draw attention to the situation in Postville. The Jewish Community Action, led by Vic Rosenthal, was joined by other groups from Chicago and Wisconsin. Again, we witness another positive Jewish-Latino coalition building opportunity, which I think is great, but I wonder if any of the national Latino rights organizations sent any representatives to Postville this past weekend. Perhaps one of my readers will know.

Photo Credit: WCFCourier.com, Jens Manuel Korgstad

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Tags: Congressional Hispanic Caucus · Congressman Joe Baca · Immigration · Jewish - Latino relations · Rep. Albio Sires · Rep. Luis Gutierrez

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michaelr // Jul 29, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Where was MALDEF? I am sure there are U.S. citizens of Mexican-American descent who were hauled off with all the other illegal immigrants and are still being detained in those secret prisons. What about the owners and the management of this Agriprocessors Meat Plant? Why do they get a pass? Is John Trasvina still in the process of composing his letter to his pen pan in Washington over this?

  • 2 theKaiser // Jul 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Our democratic controlled Congress held hearings in May to listen to testimony regarding the brutal and inhumane treatment of people detained for violating immigration laws by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the department of Homeland Security. These people at ICE are so focused on being sadistic they lock up U.S. citizens of color, along with the illegal immigrants and these mistakes are rarely even sorted out, or corrected even at deportation. What makes you think Joe Baca and Luis Gutierrez are going to do anything different than Congress? Joe Baca is absolutely clueless regarding public matters outside of putting his children in public office. And Luis Gutierrez…I need 500 words or more to convey my feelings about Luis Gutierrez.

  • 3 webmaster // Jul 29, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Both of you are correct in that Baca, Gutierrez and Sires aren’t exactly the heavy hitters in Congress. Baca is known for trying to get his boys elected to whatever office, Gutierrez misses a lot of v0tes, and Sires has only been in Congress for one term… so I really can’t judge his record.

    However, I do have some hope that maybe Baca will do something here. In 2007, the ACLU gave Baca grade of 100% and in the same year, the NAACP gave him a grade of 100% in supporting their interests according to Project Vote Smart. Sure, he’s done some strange things like try to increase the gold content on the Congressional Medals of Honor, but maybe Baca was moved enough by the stories of the people in Postville to actually get moving.

    Last week Zoe Lofgren (Congresswoman from the Bay Area) blasted the Bush administration for its immigration raids.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/07/25/MN6P11V1JC.DTL

    Maybe we should make her an honorary Latina for the week and praise her efforts. :)

    Also note what John Conyers said that these raids would never be tolerated by non-Latino ethnic groups. I think that he’s correct in that regard. The African-American community would probably have issued a more swift response.

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