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News Analysis: Immigration raid at Agriprocessors in Postville one week later

posted on May 19, 2008 at 2:02 PM

Yeager: And, David, it was a week ago we were talking about a large, what ended up being the largest single site immigration raid in the nation's history right here in Postville, Iowa. Recap this week. It's been a big week.

Pitt: It's been a big week. The hearings are beginning, you know, the status hearings, in some cases plea hearings, they are taking place now at the Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo where they have been kind of holding court. It's our understanding they'll be shutting down that facility, the federal government will be moving out of there this week and then the hearings will move to the federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Yeager: And they have had the grounds rented, I believe, until May 25th and so there was some speculation that there was going to be yet another raid. But it's taking this long to kind of get everybody processed and get onto the next step.

Pitt: That's the way it appears. Obviously we don't know anything beyond what happened in Postville but it appears that the government is going to be kind of winding down their operations there and moving.

Yeager: We're looking at 389 detained, 306 charged, 83 not charged and 62 of those released for humanitarian reasons. They're going to various points. Do we have anybody that has gone back to Guatemala or Mexico or their country of origin yet?

Pitt: Looks like that's going to be happening real soon. Part of the hearings that were held today were plea hearings and about seven, I understand as of the time we are doing this show had pleaded guilty and agreed to five years of probation and to immediately be deported back to their country of origin. And it is my understanding about half of the 306 that were criminally charged have entered some sort of plea agreements or will enter some sort of plea agreement. So, that is kind of the disposition of the cases as we look at it right now.

Yeager: Are these plea agreements anything different than what we've seen in other immigration cases whether it's Marshalltown or other cases or are they pretty standard?

Pitt: It looks like they're just simply agreeing that they committed the crime whether it is improper social security numbers or improper identification and they basically agree that we'll just leave the country.

Yeager: They'll just leave the country but the company will stay in business. Has there been any talk or any indication that we may see some type of charges against the owners of Agriprocessors?

Pitt: Not as of this point. There certainly have been a number of allegations floating around, some new allegations surfaced over the weekend of sexual improprieties or misconduct. So, those kinds of things are going to be, I'm sure, investigated and looked at but as of now there are no charges of any type like that.

Yeager: No charges. We are also looking at a lawsuit that was filed on Thursday. What is the lawsuit? And what is the status?

Pitt: This lawsuit was filed on behalf of some of those that were detained, some of the people that were detained and are claiming a violation of their Constitutional rights to due process, that they were basically detained and not allowed to immediately talk to an attorney. So, that process will work its way through the federal court system. Those people I think have been asked to stay in Iowa, to remain in Iowa to take care of that lawsuit and so that will be obviously a lengthy process as it works its way through the court system.

Tags: agriculture Iowa news