May 23, 2008
NORTH NEWTON, Kan. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Central States is responding to a May 12 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid at Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.
In the raid, 389 workers without documentation of citizenship or other legal status were captured and detained. ICE had a caravan of buses ready to cart the people away to the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa for processing. Many children were left without parents, businesses have shut down and it is unknown what the future holds for this small town in northeast Iowa. Two churches and the school in Postville have become safe sanctuaries for people who had a family member taken in the raid.
Saulo Padilla, MCC U.S. Director for the Office on Immigration, said, “The church has the call to welcome the stranger and proclaim that any division between immigrant and native is erased; there are no borders or boundaries for us as followers of Jesus. When institutions and agencies side with the powers of the world, the church is called to side with the oppressed, the poor, stranger and the marginalized. If we fail to do this, we fail to be the church.”
MCC Central States is providing $1,000 to help cover housing and food costs for families affected by the raid through Cedar Falls Mennonite Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Pastor Susan Janzen explained, “Our faith in Jesus Christ and commitment to following after him compels us to stand in solidarity with the people of Postville and the other immigrant populations in our community. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us that on judgment day God will ask us how we treated and welcomed the strangers among us. How we respond to ‘the least of these,’ which in our context includes the immigrants detained in this raid and their families, is a sign of our faithfulness to God.”
Krista Zimmerman, the MCC Washington Office legislative associate for Domestic Affairs, adds, “Immigration raids aren’t the way to fix a broken immigration system. Congress needs to enact comprehensive immigration reform.” MCC Central States encourages individuals and congregations to write letters to their U.S. congressional representative and senators with a similar message.
Make a donation to support MCC’s work on Immigration. Click on “Donate Online” and in the Designation drop-down box click “Other”. Then, simply type in “Immigration Work” in the text box.
Write to your US Representative and Senators using this sample letter.
Tina Schrag is Communications Coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee Central States.