Immigration Raid Leaves Mark on Iowa Town

Postville, Iowa, is home to the kosher meat packer Agriprocessors, which was the target of a huge raid by federal immigration agents last month. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid may have a lasting effect on city finances and the plant itself.

The tiny northeast town was home to the nation's largest kosher meatpacker, which recently lost nearly half of its work force after a huge raid by immigration officials. The raid sent shockwaves through the town, which has served as a multicultural model.

Aaron Rubashkin, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, founded Agriprocessors in the town 20 years ago. The plant was turning out about half of the nation's kosher beef and chicken.

Slaughter operations are now down to one shift instead of three as the company scrambles for replacement workers. It is expected that many of them will be Mexican-Americans from Texas.

The plant brought diversity and prosperity to a town with three central streets and no stoplights. But after the raid, many here are wondering if the future of the town is in jeopardy. Some 2,300 people lived in Postville before the raid; about half of them were Hispanic

KPVL radio, a local non-profit station, was created six years ago to broadcast in English, Spanish, and Hebrew. In today's Postville, station manager Jeff Abbas oversees a kind of bilingual sounding board.

Abbas says most people expect Postville to recover. The slaughterhouse says it will hire a new chief executive soon, and people here are eagerly waiting to see if life returns to how it was before immigration agents decided to send hundreds of their neighbors back to their original home countries.

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