Staff Editorial

Immigration reform summons is not limited to Postville

Rabbi Morris Allen with Beth Jacob Congregation, Mendota Heights, Minn., Pedro Lopez whose mother was arrested, jailed for five months and deported following a May 2008 immigration raid and Father Nils de Jesús Hernández pastor and director of the Trinity Cluster Faith Formation hold a banner during a rally held indoors due to rain as part of a Interfaith Prayer Service at St. Bridget Catholic Church commemorating the 10th anniversary of the immigration raid at the meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa, on Friday, May 11, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Rabbi Morris Allen with Beth Jacob Congregation, Mendota Heights, Minn., Pedro Lopez whose mother was arrested, jailed for five months and deported following a May 2008 immigration raid and Father Nils de Jesús Hernández pastor and director of the Trinity Cluster Faith Formation hold a banner during a rally held indoors due to rain as part of a Interfaith Prayer Service at St. Bridget Catholic Church commemorating the 10th anniversary of the immigration raid at the meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa, on Friday, May 11, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Calls for comprehensive immigration reform have reverberated for years, prompting little action by elected leaders. Ugly rhetoric dominates public discourse, drowns out experienced community voices, and pocks the pathway forward.

It’s a harmful stalemate and national shame Americans must confront, and a summons Iowans can no longer afford to ignore.

An initial shift took place last Friday as people gathered in Postville’s Saint Bridgets Catholic Church to acknowledge a 10-year-old man-made disaster. The trauma of the massive 2008 immigration raid is well known, given that it was scattered across these and many more news pages, and is far from isolated.

We know, for instance, that actions in Postville disrupted similar communities in Iowa and beyond. Stress-related health issues spiked, social and economic fabrics were torn.

Research published last year in the International Journal of Epidemiology detailed the raid’s health effect on infants. Regardless of the parent’s legal status, infants were 24 percent more likely to be born with a low birth weight compared to those delivered before the raid.

These and other health concerns are revisiting Iowa in the wake of a more recent immigration raid at a Mount Pleasant worksite that ended in the detention of 32 workers. Scant additional information is available, heightening stress.

Iowans have seen all of this before — more than once. It’s time to listen to the voices of experience.

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The Postville 10th anniversary committee distributed the following six resolutions in hope of sparking more constructive dialogue:

• To listen to victims of our failed immigration policy.

• To recognize our obligation to welcome and protect immigrants and refugees seeking an opportunity to build a better life.

• To elect leaders with the legislative will to work across political divides to fashion comprehensive immigration reform for the common good.

• To celebrate the richness of our diversity and its untapped potential for both our nation and for those seeking citizenship and asylum within our borders.

• To share this summons with church and civic leaders, family members, co-workers, and neighbors as a sign of our common quest for justice and compassion.

If applied, these five small actions can break the immigration stalemate, and prevent more unnecessary harm.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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