The U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration has held a hearing about the immigration raid at Postville. Congressman Steve King of Kiron is a the top-ranking Republican on the panel.
"When it’s all said and done the critics of the Postville raid don’t endorse any type of law enforcement against people who came into this country illegally and who illegally violated the law in order to work. Their focus is continually they want to bring up the point that it’s a victimless crime. It’s not," King says.
"Almost all of those who were convicted stole someone else’s identity and ruined their life and we had a witness from Tennessee whose had her husband’s identity stolen and her identity stolen (by illegal immigrants working at the Postville plant). Now she was the most compelling witness of the day."
On May 12th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested three-hundred-89 (389) illegal immigrant workers at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, represents a portion of the town of Postville, although the the plant itself is in another congressman’s district. He testified at the hearing.
"I’ve been pressing for accountability and looking for answers into what happened before and during the raid at Agriprocessors," Braley said. "…Even before the raid, in fact, in November of 2007, I’ve been questioning the conditions at the Agriprocessors plant. Unfortunately I’ve received few good answers to my inquiries and just last week received conflicting information from the Department of Labor and ICE on their coordination before the raid."
According to Braley, the federal government needs to focus more attention on the company. "The sheer number of arrests made by ICE during the May 12 raid raises serious questions about the company’s knowledge about what was going on in its facility," Braley said. "Almost half of the entire workforce was detained by ICE officials, including a dozen minors who are prohibited by Iowa labor law from working in a slaughterhouse in the first place."
King says he and Braley agree on this point. King says it’s his impression there may be other arrests yet to come in this case. "It would be my judgment that from what I’ve heard, some by omission, that there is that potential that there could be charged brought perhaps to the owners of Agriprocessors," King says. "We’ll have to see how that unfolds, but clearly the omissions in the statements made by the U.S. attorney who did testify (Thursday) made it clear that there was other investigation in the works."
Braley, a lawyer, said until immigration laws are equally enforced on both the workers and the businesses that employ illegal immigrants, things will get worse. "The situation at Agriprocessors is further evidence that our immigration system is broken. I believe that congress needs to think boldly and act confidently for a change in order to fix it," Braley said. "…We need to invest in technology, infrastructure and personnel to secure our border. We need to debate the feasibility of an effective and affordable employment verification system and we need to agree on what to do with undocumented immigrants who are already here."
A few years ago Congressman King began advocating a new law that would impose significant financial penalties on businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.