Last Friday, I took the afternoon off as vacation to drive to Des Moines for a showing of abUSed, the new DVD documentary on the Postville, Iowa immigration raid tragedy. It was being shown at the Catholic Relief Services, and featured a discussion panel comprised of film director Luis Argueta, Sonia Parras, the primary defense lawyer, and one of the local activists. I highly recommend that you go out of your way to see this film if you hear of another showing in your area.
The immigration raid on a Kosher meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa remains the largest immigration raid in US history, resulting in the arrests of almost 400 workers, most of whom were of Guatemalan or Mexican descent. The workers were immediately criminalized on charges of identity theft, and duped by government officials to sign away their rights. Regardless of your views on US immigration policies, the film features testimonials from countless individuals – among them local teachers; priests, nuns, and Catholic lay workers; lawyers and federal judges; a fact-finding Jewish tribunal; federal congress representatives of the US National Hispanic Caucus; Nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, and many eloquent arrested and deported workers, their broken families, and children – that clearly show that the rights of these workers (yes, undocumented workers do have rights) were systematically ignored and abused before, during, and after their arrests. Long after the arrests and deportations, documented cases of physical abuse and rape of workers and widespread abuse of child labor laws began to emerge.
This powerful DVD is NOT currently in distribution or widely available for puchase. (Yes, dear reader, good collector that I am, I did indeed acquire a personal copy of the DVD. Before I had a chance to consider donating it to the Library, my husband promptly loaned it out to a friend. I’m looking into acquiring an institutional copy but haven’t yet heard back.)
There is a bilingual trailer of the film available on YouTube, along with related interviews by Luis Argueta. (Please do ignore the anonymous YouTube user diatribes that currently display on the page, along with links to other relevant clips. Immigration is one of those issues that seem always to elicit uninformed commentary. I’m sure not one of the commentors – pro or con – has seen the actual DVD.)
I’m working on acquiring the DVD for our collections. Until then,to learn more about the film, or perhaps to learn of showings near you, you can view or join their Facebook page. Powerful and unforgettable.
Update: Now available: Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 005 162)