Tina K. Russell

July 14, 2008

People of the cloth, people of the bracelet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:06 pm

This is from an article on a priest whose predominently Hispanic church became a haven for families caught up in the Agriprocessors immigration raids in Postville, Iowa.

On Religion – Immigrants Find Solace After Storm of Arrests – NYTimes.com
Already, members of the church staff and a Spanish teacher from a nearby college were tallying the names of the detained workers. Father Ouderkirk conducted his own version of a census in this predominantly Hispanic parish. Gone were all but two members of the choir he had assembled over the years. Gone were all but one of the eight altar servers. Gone were the husbands from the weddings he had performed, and gone were the fathers of the children he had baptized.

As for the mothers, many of them also worked at Agriprocessors and had been arrested. In a putative show of compassion, federal authorities released them after putting an electronic homing device on each woman’s ankle to monitor her whereabouts. These mothers were, in the new lexicon of Postville, “las personas con brazalete,” the people with a bracelet.

During his earlier tenure at parishes in North Texas and Marshalltown, Iowa, Father Ouderkirk had experienced immigration raids twice before, but never on this scale. By the second day, he had moved back into his bedroom in the rectory.

“It’s like God saying, ‘I gave you a little practice,’ because this is the worst,” Father Ouderkirk said in an interview late last month at St. Bridget’s. “This has happened after 10 years of stable living. These people were in school. They were achieving. It has ripped the heart out of the community and out of the parish. Probably every child I baptized has been affected. To see them stunned is beyond belief.”

It seems stupid, to me, to be focusing our law enforcement efforts on people that remind me so much of our ancestors, the early settlers, working hard and chasing the American dream. (I’ve mentioned before that my lineage traces back to the Mayflower; we didn’t exactly have green cards, either.) Whatever crafty means they employed to come here and stay, I hardly think heavy-handed deport-’em-all tactics are warranted, especially given how such brutal efforts have ripped hard-working families apart.

America is a nation of immigrants. Deal.


  1. Having spent 12 years living in Miami on the enforecment end and living amongst immigrants and trying to do some charity work with one Haitian family my conclusion is that this action has nothing to do with the real issues of immigration.

    These people are just pawns in the game of politicians showing that they are making a stand on an emotional issue. Political Breast Beating.

    Trying to sort out and set policy for all the different issues that fall under the “immigration controversy” is a tedious project that can’t be covered in one blog post.

    I think there are plenty of US citizens that are more deserving of deportation than those immigrants that have integrated and are supporting families.

    Comment by John — July 16, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  2. True dat.

    Comment by Tina Russell — July 16, 2008 @ 10:40 pm

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