About 1,000 Iowans marched in protest yesterday over working conditions at the same meatpacking plant in Iowa where an immigration raid this Spring that led to the arrest of almost 400 people. The incident has left local residents pleading with their congressmen to stop with the raids. This weekend residents told their representatives that the sweep damaged the small town more than it helped, and tore families apart.
The raid was the largest of its kind in US history, and the testimony over the weekend showed the huge emotional toll it took on the community. Those testifying both skewered immigration officials and Homeland Security for inhumane tactics, and leveled criticism at the plant for taking advantage of the workers.
At the end of the hearing, Rep. Gutierrez agreed, "This is wrong. We've taken men and women who want to work and made felons out of them." One local union official said the blame would be better placed with the owners who hired and took advantage of the workers rather than the illegal workers themselves, "the family that owns that place, they're the ones who should be prosecuted."
The mayor issued the definitive statement, and urged them to take the message back to Washington that raids don't work, "this raid did nothing for this community. It downgraded us substantially. It caused people to suffer, and it caused our reputation to suffer clear across the country."
Is he right? Do immigration raids do more harm than good?