There’s been an immigration raid at the meat packing plant in Postville and sources tell Radio Iowa as many as 700 people may be arrested. Postville Police Chief Michael Halse isn’t participating in the action, but the plant on the west corner of town appears to be surrounded.
"There’s a helicopter overhead and just a lot of agents and state patrol," Halse says, "basically shutting down the area."
Halse got no advance notice of the raid. Some members of Iowa’s congressional delegation were notified after the raid began at 10 a.m., confirming agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement were involved. There had been speculation about a pending raid after the federal government leased the National Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo, boarded up windows in several buildings and refused to say why they’d leased the facilities.
The U.S. Attorney for Iowa’s northern district has scheduled a two o’clock news conference in Cedar Rapids, but the advisory does not specify whether the briefing will reveal details about the raid.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokesman Richard Rocha says agents are executing two warrants today: one is a criminal search warrant for evidence related to aggravated identity theft, fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and other crimes and a civil search warrant people illegally in the United States.
(Darin Swenson of KDEC in Decorah contributed to this story)