Postville: Five months after the immigration raid - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Postville: Five months after the immigration raid

by Jamie Grey

Postville (KWWL) -- It's been five months since more than 300 people were arrested in what was then the biggest immigration raid in U.S. history.  Since the raid, long-time residents of Postville are questioning what happened to their quiet town.

Postville is known as "Hometown to the World".  Since the raid, that slogan has become even more accurate as more cultural groups move to town looking for work and a new life.  Longtime residents say since Agriprocessors opened about 15 years ago, the cultural landscape has changed rapidly. 

For years, the town's biggest cultural groups were Hispanics, Eastern Europeans, and Hasidic Jews.  Now, residents say the Hispanic population is getting smaller with some choosing to leave and others deported.  With fewer customers, at least one Hispanic store has closed; the grocery store has reduced its hours to few per day.  New groups are coming to town from other Midwest cities.  There are now many Somalians and Palawans in town.  Many are working at Agriprocessors; others have opened up new shops and restaurants in town.

Meantime, those who were arrested in the raid and their families sya they are facing problems.  Some were sentenced to five months in jail; some were released and deported Friday and more will be released and deported Tuesday.  Still others are stuck in limbo in Postville, unable to work and unable to leave the country because their cases haven't gone to court or they are witnesses in other cases.  Some court dates are set as late as May 12, 2009, a full year after the raid.

Some longtime Postville residents have moved away, but most say they plan to stay.  Many express frustration about how the raid has changed Postville from a quiet town with many downtown shops and town activities to a town with an uncertain future.  Many say they think Agriprocessors is to blame for unwanted change, and they'd like to see more government investigation of the plant.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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