Monday, June 16, 2008

From a teacher at Postville, IA On the Raids

Elise Martins did not intend for this e-mail to become so public, but it quickly spread over the e-mail and the internet.  It is a compelling version of what happened at Postville from the perspective of school children whose parents could not pick them up from school in the aftermath of the raid. 


"Yesterday, our town was raided by 400 FBI agents, ICE agents
(formally known as INS), state troopers, and a variety of other
agencies. We had helicopters flying overhead for hours, all roads were
blocked coming into and going out of Postville, media crews and cameras
EVERYWHERE, and basically mass chaos. The federal government had
decided to make Postville an example for the rest of the nation to see
our supposedly working Homeland Security. Ironically, as this all
transpired, I was at the county courthouse with my Government class, so
that they could see first hand how our judicial system works. We got
more of a lesson then we were bargaining for. I received calls from the
school not to come back to school because I have students they were
concerned about. (Yes, they are undocumented students who have been in
this district since they were in fourth grade. They speak English
clearly, their parents work here in town and pay taxes, have tried to
file papers to become legal, but have been denied due to the fact that
they do not come from a 'desirable' country.)
I am told after a few hours that I can come back on the school bus,
but to expect to be pulled over by the FBI, and I am not to, under any
circumstances, let any officer onto the bus. I now have 12 students who
are scared as to what will happen, with four students that could
possibly be arrested. Basically, I had 20 minutes to get my wits about
me and be ready to face ICE or the FBI and tell them to take a hike.
Under federal laws, schools and churches are considered sanctuaries, and
people can go to them for political refugee. (Think of the Hunchback of
Norte Dame.) Although this did nothing to calm my nerves, as I am
afraid that I might also be arrested for not cooperating with the law.
We made it back into Postville, only to find that our school is now
surrounded by media cameras. I will not make a comment about the news
media...I have not much good to say about them at this point. I get to
my classroom, to find out that our entire computer network crashed at 10
am (the same time ICE came to Postville). It also has been running off
and on today, with an entire computer tech team unable to find out what
is wrong. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe our accounts
are being scanned. (Big Brother)
After school, all teachers and staff are told to report to the
theater. We have 150 students with no parents to go home to. We are
told that we need to stay with them until we find out where their
parents are at or a relative that will care for them until their parents
are found. Many of these kids lost both parents due to the raid and the
parents are now sitting in jail in Waterloo, or in the National Cattle
Congress Fairgrounds until they are deported. I guess, I don't really
care how any of you feel about immigration, we all have our opinions.
But I will say, that as a human being and as a parent, I find it
disturbing to see little elementary kids crying for their parents and
asking you to take them home, and all one can say is, I am sorry, or we
are looking for them. By the way, we got no information from ICE as to
who they arrested, and whether or not, their parents were being
detained. At this point, I just wanted to go home and hug my own kids.
I spent the rest of the evening trying to locate family members,
having students 'hide' their personal belongings in classrooms, barns,
houses, or where ever, and ward off the media. From what I have heard,
we were all over the midwest news channels and newspapers, with CNN and
FOX news also doing stories on us. I think we are on the national news
tonight. It was announced that Postville's raid was the largest
immigration raid in US History.
Today, I am missing about half of my students. Some have taken off
for Chicago, others are hiding in town, some were arrested, and others
are at the Catholic Church. I spent the morning helping in the church
with food preparation (there are 400 people seeking refugee in the
church right now), and also trying to locate items like diapers, food,
pillows, blankets, and games for the little kids to play with. From
media reports, about 350 people were arrested, with 697 more possible
arrests, most of them Guatemalan (not Mexican). Only 57 have been
released due to child care or medical reasons. They are currently back
with ankle monitors on. Most will be deported.
The town has literally 'shut down'. Businesses are closed, the
school is about half empty, and we are now left wondering if we will all
have jobs next year. This town was a ghost town 15 years ago, but has
managed to build itself back up on the backs of our immigrant workers.
I have complained many times about the language barriers I encountered
at school, but I have always said that the reason I had a job was
because we were the only district that actually was growing and able to
keep their staff due to the sheer number of students in the school
district. By me working in the Postville School District, I am eligible
to have half of my student loans forgiven over a five year time period.
I only have one more year left to complete this goal. If we lose half >
of our students, this will not happen.
What frustrates me the most is that this raid accomplished nothing
positive. It has destroyed families, will more than likely close some
area businesses, some of us will lose our jobs, and the real estate in
the area became worthless overnight. All this in an already struggling
economy. I know that I am complaining in this email and it has become a
lengthy email too, but everyone who complains about the immigrants
'taking American jobs' don't even want these jobs. Honestly, who wants
to work for minimum wage, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week with no
overtime, in cold, smelly conditions, gutting chickens or cows? I know
that I don't want to do that for a living.
Interestingly enough, my US History students made a direct
correlation between what we all witnessed yesterday to our history
lesson three weeks ago. We have been studying W.W.II and the
Holocaust. I had them view the movie 'Schindler's List' and the things
that happened in the movie, with the Nazis rounding up the Jews, having
them report their names and families' names, transporting them to
unknown places, keeping them in substandard holding areas, and then
getting rid of them, was very much like what happened yesterday, with
one exception, the US has not practiced the use of genocide.
ICE is today, doing house to house searches of every home and
apartment that has a hispanic name attached to it. It is rather scary
to see search teams go from place to place, looking for immigrants. We
had agencies at the school a month ago with a subpoena to seize all
student and employee files. Any name that sounded remotely Hispanic was
flagged. I find this to be a form of racial profiling, and I know that
it is happening, because I was already asked three weeks ago to bring in
a copy of my birth certificate due to the fact that my maiden name was
'Hispanic' sounding. (de Julio)
How quickly we forget our own histories. Many of our ancestors came
here with nothing to their names and very little to survive on. They
wanted a fresh start too. Unless they are 100% Native American, your
ancestors were also immigrants. So why are we trying to make an example
out of those less fortunate? Why not go after the people who really are
doing something illegal and wrong? Like drug dealers or child
molesters? If we spent as much money on those items as we are currently
spending on the War in Iraq (which we are loosing) or building a 700
mile long wall on the Mexican border which is actually 2300 miles long,
we would maybe in a better economy that was safe for our families.

Proud not to have voted for George W. Bush in either election,
Elise Martins"

ra

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Comments

'Under federal laws, schools and churches are considered sanctuaries, and
people can go to them for political refugee.'

What laws are those?

Posted by: Jack | Jun 16, 2008 11:34:01 PM

All sounds Kosher to me. When and where is the next raid?

Posted by: Eamon | Jun 18, 2008 1:27:04 PM

"Interestingly enough, my US History students made a direct
correlation between what we all witnessed yesterday to our history
lesson three weeks ago. We have been studying W.W.II and the
Holocaust. I had them view the movie 'Schindler's List' and the things
that happened in the movie, with the Nazis rounding up the Jews, having
them report their names and families' names, transporting them to
unknown places, keeping them in substandard holding areas, and then
getting rid of them, was very much like what happened yesterday, with
one exception, the US has not practiced the use of genocide."

Of course she didn't bother to point out the fact that the arrests were due to violations of immigration law and that every illegal alien taken into custody either stole someones identity or used a fake Social Security number, and committed fraud by signing a false statement called a Standard Form I-9 declaring themselves as being authorized to work in the U.S., all punishable by imprisonment. Let's overlook the fact that she committed a sin of omission and let the comparison to the holocaust stand without enlightening these children as to the whole truth of the matter. Let's not let fairness get in the way of a useful false analogy that serves as good propaganda.

Posted by: Publius | Jun 18, 2008 6:44:06 PM

"How quickly we forget our own histories. Many of our ancestors came
here with nothing to their names and very little to survive on. They
wanted a fresh start too. Unless they are 100% Native American, your
ancestors were also immigrants. So why are we trying to make an example
out of those less fortunate?"

Yeah, and maybe we should go back to the good old days when automobiles and their drivers went unlicensed; when there were no stoplights; when snake oil peddlers could sell opiates without restriction; when food was subject to adulteration without regulation; when we could dump polutants into streams; when there were no fire or building codes; when children could be exploited for their labor and go uneducated; when there was no minimum wage; when machineguns were sold without restriction to anyone with the money; when states could print their own paper money; when children could go invaccinated, etc. All of these things became regulated over time, and with good reason, as is immigration. This is not the 19th century, where our land was undeveloped and open, and there was no national responsibility to subsidize the poor through taxation of the financially capable. I'm sorry, but circumstances change, and this is a democracy, and our immigration laws are not a legacy of racial injustice but rationally considered and tailored to the needs of this nation and its citizens. No foreigners or their ethnocentrist representatives will be allowed to undermine our democratically enacted laws to their own self-interests and to the detriment of the citizens.

Posted by: Publius | Jun 18, 2008 7:07:52 PM

"Many of our ancestors came
here with nothing to their names and very little to survive on. They
wanted a fresh start too. Unless they are 100% Native American, your
ancestors were also immigrants."

Yes, we can all remember what happened to the Amerindians when they failed in their attempts to control what they considered to be their illegal immigration problem, don't we? They lost their land and nearly became extinct. That's a lesson that we can all learn from.

Posted by: Horace | Jun 18, 2008 7:19:16 PM

Thank you so much for writing this wrenching personal story, Elise. A country that loses its compassion loses its humanity. A country that preserves the law on the backs of hardworking families and their children has lost its reason for being. What good will such laws do us when we ourselves face similar troubles? Who will we turn to then?

Posted by: Barb | Jun 19, 2008 6:48:12 AM

Let me get this straight. Are you saying that your are getting your student loan forgiven (and paid for by American citizen taxpayers) for teaching poor illegal alien children whose parents do not pay income taxes, not poor American children? What is this all about? ? ?

Posted by: Mimi Peterson | Jul 4, 2008 8:00:20 AM

I am outraged that Catholic churches continue to harbor known criminals and that teachers, employers, and others who know these people are illegal, aren't being charged as accessories.

I lived in AZ for over 20 years, and saw what illegals have done to a state that I loved. The pollution of our beautiful deserts and lands, littered with cans, bottles, clothing, and drug paraphernalia as well as dirty diapers. Higher taxes to pay for increased utility costs, healthcare, education, welfare and food stamps, put a huge burden on my paycheck.
So I moved to another state. Unfortunately, it is Iowa.

After seeing the interviews on ABC news regarding these raids and the teacher's post above on the day of the raid, enforces the fact that I cannot feel sorry for these people nor the people who support them. The teacher also freely admits that they will go so far as to practice and lie what they will say to law enforcement officers.
And it sounds like the only reason she is teaching in Postville is for her own selfish reasons and not for the kids. She admits her student loans are all but forgiven for doing so.

For one thing, they cross the border illegally and know the risks involved. Some choose to pay human traffickers thousands to come into this country. So why aren't illegal enthusiasts trying to stop the exploitation if they care so much for these people?
A hospital that I used to work at in Arkansas had a doctor who was notorious for going to the border and bringing pregnant Mexicans to the U.S. so they could have their babies, claiming the women had been "abused". Well guess who got into the country illegally to be with their girlfriends and wives for the birth of their new U.S.born babies? And with absolutely no ID or healthcard. Some illegals used to pass a Medicaid card on and use it amongst themselves to charge Medicaid with the births. Since Medicaid stopped putting photo ID's on their cards, or possibly the cards were stolen or made up, any illegal could use it since it had a hispanic sounding name on it.

And when we had to call for a spanish interpreter upon admitting the happy mother to be to the hospital, admitting workers were told to mark the hispanics as "caucasian" in order to get the money from the government to pay for the medical care !
And let's not overlook the emergency room services at 150.00-200.00 per hour, charged to the taxpayers. Mr and Miss Mexican or Hispanic speaking persons always showed up to the ER for routine medical care.

Getting back to the the church harboring the fugitives, they should all be arrested. Since when do churches become involved in political matters?

I'm sorry, but all of their arguments are weak and they know it. Those laws are in place for a reason. And no other country puts up with this kind of stuff. To gain entry into another country, you have to prove you have at least 12 years of an education, can speak their language, or can, in some way become gainfully employed. The U.S. needs to study these countries to make use of the same rules.

With the population of Postville being largely Hispanic, it's clear the whole town was becoming a haven for illegals. According to the stats on the news, 75% of the employees at the kosher plant were illegals. Gee-you don't think word gets around do you?
Who doesn't beleive that they contact their relatives in Mexico or Guatemala and let them know where to go for sancutary services?
Then why didn't the legal residents and the church of the town run the business out of town for hiring illegals? I love people who play stupid and beleive ignorance removes them from any responsibility.

And that 12 yr old girl in the article-you mean it took the govt. 12 years to figure out that her whole family was in jail for illegal activity and now her generation of family was next? That tells me our government needs to move a little faster.
I also believe that some Catholic churches harbor criminals for a reason. For profit, publicity, and future donations comes to mind.

It can't be a secret that the Catholic church didn't know they were illegals in the first place because they had to be attending their church in Postville. You don't see them running to Methodist or Baptist or any other churches do you?
And as far as Fr Maculey saying "the people had spiritual needs I had to perform"-what was he doing? Marrying illegals with legal citizens?
It would be wrong (and he would have to know it), for him to marry two illegals together because in Iowa or any other state for that matter, a church cannot marry a couple without proof of citizenship and a marriage license. How did the couple prove citizenship? They couldn't have done it by going to a courthouse.

Another argument illegal activists use is that our ancestors came from other countries seeking sancutary and jobs. Well guess what? My grandparents fled the holocaust, but emigrated thru Ellis Island LEGALLY. They didn't come here ILLEGALLY.

The bottom line is that I myself am a political activist and I am pushing for tougher immigration laws and laws against those who harbor criminals. And for those who AID criminals as well.

Also, churches do NOT have the right to harbor criminals, but they try. Here is a link to the best explanation of the law.

http://www.slate.com/id/2147879/

Posted by: Cindi | Jul 19, 2008 12:22:20 PM

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