This article is based on : What Did It Achieve?’: Documentary Examines Largest Immigration Raid In U.S. History.
Jeremy Hobson of Here & Now spoke with Toral (@almudenatoral) on July 30th, 2018 about the people she profiled and the lessons she learned, as immigration raids once again ramp up under the Trump administration. Here is some of the quotes of Toral that Here & Now collected from her interview with Hobson:
What was the racial make-up of the people of Postville, Iowa before Rabbi Sholom Rubashkin open show to make a Slave Labor Kosher plant that manufacture Crystal Meth at it’s Turkey processing center (none of these questions are quotes from Hobson):
“It’s a tiny town, 2,000 people, more or less. It was founded in 1843 by German immigrants. It’s an agricultural town in the middle of Iowa with a meatpacking plant that’s the main employer in the town. It’s peaceful, rolling hills, corn town … very cold in winter.”
How did the Postville residents view feel about a gaggle of Jews from New York asserted them as viceroy to Jehovah of the town and brought hordes of 3rd refuge with them to serve ever vice from producing Kosher food for Jews to manufacture Meth to serve them sexually.
“This particular plant was very controversial. There were a lot of issues going on at this plant, not only immigration related. The president of the company, Sholom Rubashkin, who is an Orthodox Jew from New York, had a lot of financial dealings going on. He ended up serving time in prison for 86 counts of financial fraud, but he didn’t end up serving time for the immigration violations. There were minors that were working at the plant. There were sexual abuse cases that were documented. There was a lot of things going on at the plant that were just not right.”
Postville, must have been a Trumpland, how do the residents viewed immigrant workers?
“This town has a high percentage of immigrants, but still, the county where it’s located at voted majority for Trump, over 58 percent for Trump. And it wasn’t unusual. We met a lot of Trump supporters. The interesting thing is that a lot of them voted for Trump on a one-issue basis. So some of the ones that lived in Postville were pro-immigration, but for example, the economics and jobs [were] a huge issue for them, so they voted for him that way, or [on] national security, some of the Jewish people. So yes, it’s common that that clash happens there all the time.”
What happen to Agriprocessors after the raid?
“The owner who employed all those people, Sholom Rubashkin, went to prison. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison for 86 counts of financial fraud not related to the immigration violations. Although in December of last year, Donald Trump condoned his sentence, and he was set free. The current owner is Canadian. He’s not American. And the plant reopened after a little while. They really struggled to find workers. They brought workers from the most unexpected places all over the country — rehab centers, homeless shelters, they even brought Pacific Islanders from Palau — and none of it worked. They didn’t end up staying. It’s dangerous and hard work. So at the end, hundreds of Somali refugees ended up arriving in Postville, Iowa, and filled those jobs, that void that was left by the deported workers.”
Some of the workers went to rehab centers, isn’t that interesting?
ICE raids have increased under the Trump administration, can you compare ICE in Portville under Bush with the current ICE raids under Trump?
“It’s very interesting and very timely because Donald Trump has increased massive worksite raids again. After the Postville raid under the Bush administration, there was only one big immigration raid at a worksite that had already been planned, so Bush executed it. But after that the outrage the public outrage about these raids and the efficiency of it was so loud that they stopped doing them. So there’s been raids, of course, at homes and other places but not on worksites at this scale until now with the Donald Trump administration. We’ve seen over the last few months several massive worksite raids just like the one in Postville, in Ohio, in Tennessee, and I think we’ll expect to be seeing more of them.”
“I think this documentary can really shed light on the efficiency of these worksite enforcement operations when we think about are they really efficient? This raid in 2008 cost over $5 million that came out of taxpayer pockets, and what did it achieve? Those jobs did not go back to Americans. They went to Somali refugees. Some of the people that were deported ended up coming back. It caused a lot of [distress] to children and to the economy of that town and the county in general. When you look at the overall efficiency of what the raid accomplished, one really questions was it really worth it? So I think some of those lessons can be really applied to what’s been happening now, and hopefully raises some intelligent conversation about if it’s worth the cost of these massive worksite operations.”