Postville recognizes 10 years since raid, calls for change - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Postville recognizes 10 years since raid, calls for change

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POSTVILLE (KWWL) -

It has been 10 years since Federal agents raided the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa. 

At the time, it was the largest immigration raid in history.

I.C.E. agents arrested 389 undocumented workers.

Friday, immigration reform advocates, and those impacted by the raid, gathered in Postville to recognize the 10 years.

They did so inside the very walls that brought shelter and comfort in a time of need. For a week after the raid, families slept, ate, and prayed in St. Bridget Catholic Church in Postville.

A decade later, the prayers continued with more than a hundred people attended the 10th-anniversary prayer service and rally.

Among the many speakers at the event was Pedro Lopez, who was just 13 when his mother was arrested and deported.

Lopez was at school when he learned that the Agriprocessors plant, where his mother and father worked, was being raided.

"I knew she was there. After that, I just shut down emotionally," recalls Lopez.

His mother was one of the nearly 400 workers, who were arrested and taken to the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo.

For two weeks his family hid in their basement.

During the five months that followed the raid, Lopez's family struggled to keep in contact with his mother. 

Lopez's mother was transferred to at least five jails across the country before being deported to Mexico.

Today, Lopez is a voice for immigration reform. He recently graduated from Loras College and is studying to take the LSAT to become an immigration lawyer.

Lopez and his family are now on a path to citizenship.

"We aren't asking for space. We will take the work. We will make our space and we are going to succeed. That is all we want. We want the opportunity. I am proof of that. My parents gave me the opportunity, I took it. I am running with it. I am going to keep going," said Lopez.

Lopez plans to keep working for immigration reform. Many who attended the event say not enough has changed in the last 10 years.

Sonia Parras-Konrad is an immigration lawyer, who helped many of the families affected by the Postville raid.

She says the system must include more compassion.

"The war tactics and techniques that are used against our communities, that are not needed. We are not armed. We are not criminals.  We are hard working moms and dads. We are embedded in your community, our community," said Parras-Konrad.

It was a message that was repeated often during the service, a call for compassion, equality, and justice for all.

Among the speakers for the event was Archbishop Michael Jackels of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque.

The town of Postville continues to recover from the raid. Mayor Leigh Rekow says the Latino population has, again, started to grow.

For more information on the Postville raid and how the town has recovered watch the KWWL Special Report.

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