Monday, July 14, 2008

No Justice - No Mercy: The Shame at DOJ

In an article, and in a separate editorial, the NY Times has covered the story of some 300 undocumented workers ("illegal aliens") who were arrested in a raid at Agriprocessors, a slaughterhouse in Portsville, Iowa. The story of the workers - many of whom were sentenced to 5-month prison terms, has been publicized by a court-interpreter, Erik Camayd-Freixas.

Camayd-Freixas is a professor of Spanish at Florida International University, and has served as a court interpreter for 23 years. His essay, describing the abuse of justice evident in the tactics of the Bush DOJ and federal prosecutors, also tells the shamefully sad story of the resulting hardship and indignity.

An excerpt from his essay:

Postville, Iowa (pop. 2,273), where nearly half the people worked at Agriprocessors, had lost 1/3 of its population by Tuesday morning. Businesses were empty, amid looming concerns that if the plant closed it would become a ghost town. Beside those arrested, many had fled the town in fear. Several families had taken refuge at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, terrified, sleeping on pews and refusing to leave for days. Volunteers from the community served food and organized activities for the children.

At the local high school, only three of the 15 Latino students came back on Tuesday, while at the elementary and middle school, 120 of the 363 children were absent. In the following days the principal went around town on the school bus and gathered 70 students after convincing the parents to let them come back to school; 50 remained unaccounted for.

Some American parents complained that their children were traumatized by the sudden disappearance of so many of their school friends. The principal reported the same reaction in the classrooms, saying that for the children it was as if ten of their classmates had suddenly died. Counselors were brought in. American children were having nightmares that their parents too were being taken away. The superintendant said the school district’s future was unclear: “This literally blew our town away.”

“Hundreds of families were torn apart by this raid,” said a Catholic nun. “The humanitarian impact of this raid is obvious to anyone in Postville. The economic impact will soon be evident.”

But this was only the surface damage. Alongside the many courageous actions and expressions of humanitarian concern in the true American spirit, the news blogs were filled with snide remarks of racial prejudice and bigotry, poorly disguised beneath an empty rhetoric of misguided patriotism, not to mention the insults to anyone who publicly showed compassion, safely hurled from behind a cowardly online nickname. One could feel the moral fabric of society coming apart beneath it all.
Various estimates put the number of illegal aliens in America at 12 million or so. Does anyone believe that the tactics employed in the Agriprocessors case can be effective in forcing the deportation of these millions of workers and their families, a few hundred at a time, across hundreds of communities? Please, read this account and ask yourself: Is this really America?

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posted at 11:29:00 AM by Neil

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