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Iowa: the nightmare state

22 August 2008

When I originally wrote this for a later posting — the one you’re reading now — I didn’t know about the overwhelming task taken on by Saint Bridget’s Catholic Church (with a congregation of 100, and a staff of four) to provide food, shelter, legal advice and counseling to their neighbors.  In awarding the Church a “Wings of Justice” award, wrote:

“The women are effectively prisoners,” said Father Paul Ouderkirk. “The difference between them and anybody who is in jail is that in jail the government pays for them, but if they’re on the streets, we pay for them. What kind of a government makes prisoners of 43 mothers who all have children and then says, ‘You can’t work, you can’t leave, and can’t stay?’ That boggles the imagination.”

Sister Mary McCauley, the church’s pastoral administrator, told Time Magazine “it is a “privilege” to serve those affected by the raid.”

Donations are being accepted by:

St. Bridget’s Hispanic Fund
P.O. Box 369
Postville, IA 52162

We all know that Czech composer Antonin Dvorak benefited from his short stay in Spillsville, Iowa.  But, it appears that the spirit of his countryman, Franz Kafka, haunts Postville:

(Marisa Treviño, LatinaLista):

… the U.S. government has created a virtual “open-air” prison in this town where 43 women who are mothers and accustomed to working to feed their children must wear ankle bracelets to monitor their movements and are reduced to begging for food because the federal government won’t allow them to work or otherwise provide for their children — and won’t allow them to leave.

In fact, when a federal immigration judge in Chicago issued a ruling last week allowing 10 women who had been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Postville raid to return to their home countries voluntarily, he went against what ICE officials had wanted, which was deportation.

As Treviño explains, as deportees (as opposed to voluntarily repatriating themselves — which they can’t do with small American children in their care), the women would be classified as “undesirable aliens” who cannot legally return to the country.  And, ironically, by holding them for deportation, they become those mythical creatures, the “illegal aliens” who drain public welfare coffers.

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