(AV17741) abUSed; The Postville raid- Film & Discussion
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(AV17741) abUSed; The Postville raid- Film & Discussion

good evening my name is Javier
echevarría I’m the director of multicultural programs for the College
of Agriculture and life sciences and I want to welcome you to Iowa State
University and to this occasion first of all I have to remind of our sponsors we
have the Latino Studies programs the culture design the AG multicultural
programs office the College of Agriculture and life sciences Department
of Sociology Latin America knows and the Committee on lectures which is founded
by the government of the student body so thanks to them today we have the
opportunity to have mr. Luthor Geeta Louisa Gaeta is a filmmaker who’s who
has also work as a commercial director lecturer and teach in the United States
Europe and through other Americas born and raised in Guatemala
Agata is a US citizen has been a residence of New York since 1977 he
holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in
Romance languages from the University of Michigan where he also did post-grad
work in cinema he has directed and produced short films the squirrel bird
under datura bone and Guatemalan Christmas a 60-minute fishery the Tri
cycle documentaries the cause of cotton what a modern 9/11 all tree the human
face of a civic celebration and the leaders literary angel and two feature
films the silence of NATO and collect coal Agatha has lecture Extension
extensively at universities and colleges across the country and at international
conferences Agatha has received several international awards his films the
silence of NATO is the only water matter film ever to have reached the Academy
Awards competition and he is the only water man and director to have received
a CLI O award in April 2009 the British newspaper The Guardian listen mister I
get as one of the water modest national living icons
alongside Nobel Prize laureate real away tomandcheu and singer/songwriter Ricardo
Arjona presently I get around his production
company my Amelia group and is directing and producing abuse the post bill raid a
documentary about the largest most expensive and most brutal immigration
customs informants rates in the history of the
States and before we worked on me and I want to remind you that if you are in a
class you need to sign out there and please turn off your cell phones okay
and let’s receive mr. Guerra I would like climb out of applause okay good
evening thank you it is a pleasure to be at Iowa State and thank you to everybody
who made it possible and to all of you for coming tonight
this is my 29th trip to Iowa in 26 months and I’m very happy to be here
what we’re gonna do tonight is I will give you a very brief introduction about
how I got to this point how I got interested in this story and what it has
meant for me then we will screen six segments of the film the beginning some
parts in the middle and the end we will stop at the end of each section and then
at the end we will have questions and answers some of you weren’t possible on
may 12 2008 I see faces here that I’ve come to to people that have come to
really love and respect and admire and I like many people was to visit with my
life so that on May 13th when I heard about
the raid on National Public Radio which I do every morning since I was a kid all
I do is listen to radio I didn’t pay much attention I heard about Paz Ville
didn’t know where that was it stuck in the back of my mind and I
mainly know that I was working on a story about an undocumented man who gets
deported and originally he was to be a farm worker from California my note was
making a meatpacking plant worker from I went about my life two months later on
July 11th the New York Times had an article on the front page by Julia
Preston about Erica my frege’s Erica my freak has us a lot of you probably know
was a federal interpreter who went to national kennel Congress in Waterloo to
interpret during the proceedings that follow the raid how many of you have
read Erica meit’s essay okay especially to the young people shame on you you
better read it you owe it to yourselves if you think that you live in a
democracy if you think that it’s worth fighting for what this country stands
for read that essay it’s 14 pages I guarantee it will open your eyes it will
be worth your time Eric can I see a my D you will google and find the essay it’s
worth it it’s really important in this essay mr. Kermit tells what he saw what
he heard and then proceeds to analyze the forces behind what he saw and what
he heard which is the forces behind immigration I wrote to everybody I knew
and I said what I stole you read this essay it’s really important i wrote to
mr. kottmeier and ask for his permission to translate it to spanish and i wrote
to a publisher saying if we get the right will you publish it everybody said
yes and then i made one more call then that was to some British Church in
Pottsville and I said I want to come and do some interviews because I like to do
something about the about the story and I said by the way I’m doing this on my
dime so can you find me a place to stay everybody said yes so I went to PA’s
ville on July 23rd and my plan was to be there four days and then go back to New
York after having interviewed maybe five people six people
due to three-minute portraits of undocumented workers which I have been
doing for the past year well on Monday after being there for days Vivian tree
was My partner and I were driving to the airport in in Minneapolis and I said
Vivian I can go back I left her at the airport and I went back to Boswell State
a week and then came back 28 more times with this 29 and one of those trips I
accompanied five families that were leaving to go to Guatemala and that was
my first of 10 trips to Guatemala to see where the people had come from and I
became very fortunate to get the trust from the people so that I would take
pictures to their families in Guatemala their families in Guatemala would say
either videos or pictures or medicines or letters and this was quite a
privilege so now we’re going to see some of what I recorded during those twenty
eight trips to Iowa and ten to Guatemala it was a total of 400 hours of material
and for the past year and a half we’ve been editing what now is a 96 minute
feature documentary tonight we will see about 50 minutes in six sections ok so
the first one is the beginning of the film I’m chief Abbess thanks for joining me
this morning for roots in Americana music on member supported KP DL 89.1
Postville community radio for the four County area this land was made for you
and me the Gulf Stream o’clock this morning immigration agents
surrounded the Agri processors in Postville the largest kosher meat
packing plant in the country at least a bunch of guys that’s the I have men and they said you
know you have to come with us we got into the ambulance and we drove
up to Agra all the sudden I see lines and rolls of Hispanic workers on their
knees like dogs and they would just chained and I couldn’t even I’ve never
seen anything like that before ice has been in contact with the Iowa Department
of Human Services we’ve also talked to the mayor and the superintendent’s here
to alert them of what’s happening today and to get the correct information to
them and ten o’clock we received a fax it doesn’t really say exactly what’s
going to happen it says US Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ice office of
the Special Agent in Charge of st. Paul Minnesota may be in need of your
office’s support on may 12 2008 based upon our plan to effect the criminal and
administrative arrest of numerous foreign nationals within your
jurisdiction that’s it was very confusing to me exactly what that meant okay lights the the workers that were
arrested that they were taken in buses to the National cattle Congress in a
very Machiavellian and ironic twist the workers that were working in an assembly
line processing cattle now became the human beings being processed in the
legal assembly line that was set up at the National cattle Congress there they
were offered a proposition that they couldn’t refuse and it was either you
plead guilty to using fake documents and accept five months in jail followed by
deportation or face a trial for aggravated identity theft which as of
9/11 of 2001 carries a minimum sentence of two years so because these were
criminal charges and that’s very important they were charged criminally
they were picked up because they were had no immigration status but they were
charged criminally and if you are charged criminally and you cannot afford
the lawyer what happens is anybody know the rights if you’re right if you’re
picked up and you have no money to pay for a lawyer what do you do ah the court
will appoint a lawyer so that’s what happened the government gave them
lawyers let’s see what happened they’re like lights so well this was happening in
Waterloo back in Pottsville women were asked and men to if they had underage
children at home that depended on them if the answer was yes they were
separated and put in a different boss and there they were questioned another
time and by the end of the day the mothers and a father and two fathers
were released it was a total of about 48 and they were released with an ankle
monitoring device that prevent them from work working and prevented them from
leaving the state but allow them to go and take care of their children the rest
of the people were sent to Waterloo there were two women that in spite of
having children under age at home said they didn’t have any kids and they said
that because they were afraid so let’s see um the story of Consuelo and
Mercedes the two mothers that said they had no kids okay I think this is very
important the Supreme Court doesn’t usually reach unanimous decisions and
what this means is that the statute that was used to pressure the workers to
plead guilty is today not usable in there in these cases and at the time the
government knew it there was a court in Iowa that had challenged and because
this court said you shouldn’t be using this statute against undocumented
workers who have either fake social security numbers or somebody else’s
there were two other courts there has said yes you can use it
– pause ville – more courts said no you can’t
and one more court said yes you can so it was three to three that’s why I went
to the Supreme Court and that’s how the decision came unanimous okay so as I
said some of the women were sent back to possible to care for their children to
care for the children and this is a very important operational world think about
it’s very humane not to be sent to jail instead you’re sent home with an ankle
bracelet so you can care for your kids but let’s see what what happens okay so
people who went to jail for five months were then sent home they were deported
and they had what’s called a 10-year ban for ten years they’re not allowed to
even try to come back to the country they’re convicted felons so even after
ten years if a convicted felon applies for you
visa for a US visa and most likely they won’t get it so this is pretty much
banned for life so what happened to them during their deportation what happened
to them once they got there and what is behind the the immigration that takes
place that’s what isn’t next to the last segment will show us four to ten
thousand people crossing a day we’re not there things have changed a little bit
but there’s still a lot of people coming and something that happened in places
like Arizona and San Diego was that a lot of our tax money was spent building
a fence so people had to go and cross in other parts that are a lot more
inhospitable more dangerous that’s why in Pima County
Arizona in the summer they have to rent additional refrigerated trucks so that
they can put the bodies of the people that they find in the desert days from
dehydration so building this fence is one of the very irrational acts that we
have done as a nation the story of Paz Ville is very complex and we cannot tell
everything but there’s one aspect that we must touch and that is the other side
the employee the employers that made this possible as dr. bloom says so now
we’re going to see the one of the attraction factors that brings
immigrants and then we will go and have the conclusions of the film and the
ending so here is the last segment and then we can have some questions okay I
would like to recognize a couple people who are here and I see Jeff and Mary
they are in the film but they also are some of the heroes that our friend
talked about and viola TallyMan who you saw and heard on the on the film and Luz
where did lose go where is lose lose went to the bathroom okay so there’s a microphone around so
let’s have questions I want to thank you for this fine film two things we have a
granddaughter who has a husband who was undocumented from Mexico picked up for a
bad taillight one day as he was going to work and to make a long story short $10,000 in several years later he does
have a visa in his back here and it was mainly because he did have a little
child and that somehow warmed their hearts but that thoroughly convinced me
that Homeland Security is a euphemism for fascism in the United States also
also the day of the raid I remember I was Congress persons rushing to the
microphones to say how great it was that Homeland Security was protecting us from
all those identity thefts the idea being that they had all stolen dead grandma’s
social security number and were corrupting the world when obviously you
and I can buy a social security card for about two hundred and fifty dollars in
Des Moines today and the third item as you look at your ballots to vote in
November there is not one profile of courage person on any of the ballots
they all chickened out and refused to look at the gross injustice that has
been happening for decades here thank you
thank you I just want to read you something that was published in the New
York Times today talking about homeland security
last year’s the port Asians we’re 390 2862 that is a thousand sixty six a day
all that is privatized the planes that you saw are privatized the jails that
the people that are get picked up for having a bad broken ted-like are
privatized this is big business some people are making money out of this but
what’s more important is that out of these almost four hundred deportees half
of them were convicted criminals half of them did not have any any problems with
the law however and this is I’m reading researchers who study Federal Statistics
said they could not dig into the immigration figures to learn more about
the deportees who were not criminals because immigration authorities had
blocked them for the first time from receiving detailed data so there’s still
a lot of problems accessing real figures then what questions I understand that
there was a lot of children involved that were probably born in the United
States what is their legal status like that one lady said her daughter I
believe it was was born in the United States so technically those children
should have American citizenship and rights correct yes those children have
American citizenship American passports but they have no rights they live in
their poverty there’s 14 kids in this town called calderas in Guatemala who
have no access to any of the rights that we as citizens are entitled and that
kind of leads me into the next question the United States Congress is talking
about taking away or not granting American citizenship to those children
what are your views on that I think that we have gone mad I think that trying to
change the Constitution one of the most important achievements of the
Constitution was to grant citizenship to former slaves and this is exactly where
we want to go back some of us and I think that it’s absurd Louise how did you end up in this
country and what is your educational background and how you came to produce
mountain Laura Rome Attorney General Deputy Attorney General of Iowa a real
hero too she’s the subject of the next film I
came here to study engineering with a full scholarship to the University of
Michigan let’s go blue but after I finished my degree after three years at
that time Guatemala was in the beginning of what
became extremely horrible political conditions so I had one year of my
scholarship and I said if I go back I’ll probably get killed very quickly so I
better not do that I then began doing something that I had always loved which
was studying literature after my scholarship was over I was able to pay
for the rest of my education and then I as long along literature rediscover
theatre and film and the rest is history does that answer your question thank you hi I’m just curious about when you were
about all these shots about like the people in the airplane and people
getting detained and stuff is that like actual like what happened or is that a
recreation I wish I had the money to do those recreations
those are real real shots yes so you were allowed to be I was allowed I was
allowed to go on a media flight as it’s called there was a reporter from the
Kansas City Journal a photographer and myself that flew from Texas to Ramallah
on a nice flight Thanks it was a sanitized iced flight there’s a lot of
people who tell stories of being chained inside the plane and they’re changed
their leg shackles are removed only a few minutes before they land in this
plane nobody had shackles and everybody had a
new t-shirt and as the Kansas City Journal journalists remarked to the ice
person who was our host he said all these women are ready for their close-up
because they all had fresh makeup and the reaction was we had nothing to do
with that we had nothing to do with that which I’m sure was true I was curious
I’m from what Tim Allen and I was in what when I when this happened and I
remember the news and all but um maybe you can tell us tell the rest what the
government of Guatemala what was the reaction of what the violence or the
government because I guess a lot of people were were indicated but most of
people were like also I know people like what the malleus et at least have a very
short view also and so people could say oh no like everyday thousands of people
are coming back to the city so they’re creating and problem for it what am i
let CT know and I know it sounds horrible but that’s what people think
you know so maybe you can also say something about what the government
reaction was cities well the consular office the council actually
went to to the National cattle Congress and he declared on and it’s published in
the press that there was no problem with the facilities at the National Congress
some of the workers have testified that they complained to him that they were
called that they were hungry that they were thirsty and the answer was well
you’re guilty so just bear with it and soon you’ll be home amazingly enough
people knew about the raid probably faster in the home communities than
anywhere else because of cell phones it’s amazing cell phone is an incredible
development tool people come to work here because they’re causing their
brother calls him and say hey they’re hiring so they come and they also say
hey don’t come they’re not hiring so it’s a really that’s why I’m aggression
is very very flexible if there’s a lot of jobs more people will come if there’s
some jobs field will come I am glad you mentioned the very narrow – of of the
some of the people more Amala mainly in the cities and I think that that is
something that they share with us here we are we have images of immigrants that
we learn from the media and unfortunately those images are very
negative I hate to talk bad about my home country my home my birth country
but there’s a lot of in sensitivity to the suffering of
others and those dream people that say these deportees are coming to create
problems for us don’t ever stop to think that those
people before they were there parties were sending dollars to the country and
they were you know sustaining the the economy so there’s a lot to teach a lot
to do you know for people to learn and one of the purposes of doing this is to
create new narratives that counter act what we hear in the media everyday and
we begin to see the immigrants not as others but as ourselves not as the enemy
but as our neighbor you know not somebody who is coming to steal our
Social Security but somebody who’s working paying into the Social Security
Fund and paying for our retirement do you think if America was doing really
well today do you think the illegal like immigration ice and all that do you
think that would be as thorough as it is today I’m sorry would you repeat that
again if America was better off do you think isin all the deportation that’s
going on do you think it would be as thorough as it is – I am still not clear
on the question if the economy will be better in America do you think that eyes
will be needed you know and it’s kind of deportations you know if we were doing
good economically I think a question is like the widow does this problem still
exists is that if we were doing better economically
would I still be needed well yeah and like what the what the with the issue of
immigration and deportation vs throat and as harsh as it is today I think that
probably not it wouldn’t be as harsh I think that the issue of deportation the
issue of immigrants it’s a smokescreen it is to find somebody who’s guilty
who’s guilty for everything that’s going wrong in this country the illegals so I
think that you know we do have a problem with with the criminal people coming
into this country and we have problems with criminals inside the country who
were born here but I think that a lot of the emphasis on illegal immigration is
simply to take away our attention from who the true culprits are the problem tiniest person it’s all about having
people to do the work we won’t do time and time again we hear people say these
people come to this country they take our jobs
did you see a single white person arrested at that planet
not a one they don’t want those jobs we need this slave labor so this I don’t
think it will make a difference because they will have to always show they’re
doing something to keep the rednecks happy good I think that that’s what we
need we cannot stop being angry but you know Jeff was one of the first people I
met and Violeta was one of the first people I met and one of the reasons I’m
here is because of them because I saw what they were doing they came to bat
for these people they came to bat against this injustice and they didn’t
left and the reason we had a trial for child labor violations is the work of
Lauryn and even though the verdict was not
guilty of knowingly and willingly having kids at the plant the plant itself pled
guilty to having kids at the plant that’s how convoluted law is but the law
in Iowa change today instead of fines of one hundred dollars for child labor
violations correct me if I’m wrong it’s a ten thousand per violation and today
you don’t need to prove willingness and knowing you can simply prove neglect in
other words today the verdict would have been guilty you said that it was the
legal part of America that was the problem so and since most of the elites
which is a very few number of Americans are the ones that put these people into
our end of the executive branch and the judicial and stuff do you think that if
more middle-class and working-class Americans would be more involved in
politics that something like this would change well I would hope so and I really
think that we do need to get involved you know think globally but act locally
really be involved this is not going to go away unless the young people of this
country begin to think differently yes Laura Louis what do you think of former
councilman mr. Goldsmith’s rationalization that look when you come
as an immigrant you start at the lowest rung of the of the available labor pool
and my grandfather did it and that’s why my dad was a PhD and I reap the benefits
how do you feel about that explanation I think it’s a little well I think
there’s some truth about it but I think that it’s also a little cynical and I
think it’s also right rationalizing a slavery and that’s not what this country
is about No we got a reply just so he meeting dear we are very concerned with the
thank you for that’s you know that’s it that was
partly my question to the young people here today I grew up in the 60s you know
have a protest and pool where is your outrage where’s your anger
you know the questions about the mechanics of the film and
and everything else have been great but where is your anger its this is your
government doing this to you you have to grow up in its thank God I’m going to be
dead in 30 years I don’t have to see what’s coming but you people I feel
sorry you have got to get active you have got to get loud and you have got to
put your heart into this I haven’t heard a single impasse and that’s where it starts with our
young people yes sir I wanted to thank you for the
very very honest and very emotionally stirring film and I also wanted to ask
my father paid for his college education working in a packing plant in Dubuque
when it was a unionized job and men paid for their children to go to school and
it built that community and after he left the packing plant it was crushed by
the IBP system which was the beginning of massive amounts of exploited
immigrant labor moving into the community and my father having
experience with that system still says the only reason were the largest reason
why they targeted Agra processors was that the operational the people who
owned the packing plant were considered others in the community they were Jewish
they were people who stood out and it was easier to target them what is the
most effective way to target the people who are profiting the most off of a
system that is providing a good that is as difficult for some parts of the
community to refuse as cheap food that’s a very difficult question but yes I mean
you know why was a great processors targeted I there’s been a lot of
possible explanations one of them is that they were an independent plant
besides I mean they were reasons to there were investigations going on for
child labor violations there were investigations for our worker
exploitation there were investigations for wage questions but I don’t know how
it is in the big plans but the big plans have a lot of a lot of pool so I think
maybe I can throw this back to Laura what do you think is the if the answer
to this question the entity that actually knows why they
targeted Agra processors I do think if you want to continue to get informed and
outraged as Jeff said mentioned that you would look at who’s giving the money to
whom and they will feather both sides of the aisle when it comes to feathering
nests certainly the robots can family has contributed a lot politically to
both sides of the aisle but if you look at Tyson and IBP and if you haven’t seen
Food Inc rent that and and you will see that that there’s not a lot of
motivation for four candidates and politicians to talk about this because
as we know they’re funded a lot by big business and at the time after the raid
it was also Iowa caucus season if you recall that and neither of the
candidates on either side of the aisle when they would come as close as Decorah
or Dubuque would speak of the raid that had happened just months before we have
time for just one more question over time when sort of the masses have
been oppressed and there’s an elite that’s sort of raping the community
you’ve always seen people gather together like a union how come cuz the
the core of all this is clearly cheap food how come there has not been a union
of consumers come together to say we’d like to boycott this kind of food we’d
like to boycott this kind of behavior have you ever seen anything like this
come together is this some sort of stirring like this the the only thing
that comes to mind as far as the consumers get involved is the grape
vodka in in California but maybe Jeff can tell something about the the
consumer reaction traded the rest of the money we try to spend in
the coal we try to buy
labor friendly food if it’s not locally produced we try to make sure that it’s
all it’s all very green and very good yeah unfortunately we were just too
comfortable and and it’s counterproductive is is I’m sorry after he had that article about the
labor practices and in the modern-day description similar to Upton Sinclair’s
there was a boycott by Trader Joe’s customers on Agra processors kosher
products and as a result they were packaged and sold and Trader Joe’s under
names like Aaron’s best for example Aaron Rivage can being Abraham Aaron
rabat can being that the elderly rabat c’n who still is a butcher in in in new
york just ask him yeah and and i wanna that there have been and that led to a
big economic demise of the plant they were spiraling after they lost the
Trader Joe’s account so it did have an impact sorry Louise yes and and also
that as we show a little bit with the Reform Jews in in Minneapolis in Chicago
there is been an ongoing effort to bring death achill behavior towards workers in
the certification of kosher food but again it’s a matter of dollars as
Nathaniel popper said to me people are willing to pay a premium for culture you
know food but they’re not willing at least he said I don’t see it now willing
to pay a premium for kosher food that includes Ethical Treatment of workers so
I really think that as Jeff said we have to think about our daily actions and
it’s not easy it’s not easy okay just in response to what Jeff is it
Jeff said um I do agree with you in that and that the use and the students should
be more involved and need to get involved and I think there are some of
us that that do have that mindset so I hope I hope that that you know that we
are out here and that way some of us are still trying to figure out how we can
create change and how we can be part of the movement and a lot of us are further
than or in education for that know so I just you know kind of wanted to put that
out there but those of us are here in hopes of creating change and and and
stopping these and justices and then I also and in response to one other
student with to one of the students in the back you know you can’t tell us to
not go to Walmart where students that I think that in itself what she said is
important to take into account case there are so many not too well no I will
that was good saying not to not to bring in their social justice classroom for me
I do want to bring it you know there are interlocking systems of oppression that
that’s right that allows for this to happen that that keep okay hold on what
I’m trying to say is that there there are interlocking systems of oppression
that perpetuate this right one of those is Walmart there’s a reason for a while
Walmart is cheaper right there’s a there’s a reason for that that’s what
attracts us to go there there’s a reason for why we don’t see that many coops
there’s a reason for why sometimes students deviate from from focusing
their lives on on creating change in these Tattvas issues and they’re more
focused on MTV or real world or the Jersey Shore’s
you know it’s true and I think there are a lot of systems that are in place for
that to happen like that’s not accidental so while I do agree with the
student that said you know like we’re students we can still go in a Walmart I
could see why that rationale is there and and trust me I feel you but I wanna
I would like to challenge all the youth in here and all the students in here to
take a step back that’s something that I learned today in class you know taking a
step back and looking at why these issues are taking place like why things
happening right why is Walmart cheap taking the step back when is Walmart
what is it doing to our people I’m taking this another step back and
figuring out why why is this business still in place so anyway I just wanted
to put it out there and again give it up for those of us that aren’t here trying
to create change if you want to be informed by the film fill out your name
in an email on our signup sheet and I just wanted to really say how much I
appreciate you being here your questions and keep fighting I was a commercial
director and one day I said I have a little bit of my soul left and I’m not
gonna sell that part so don’t give up keep fighting and do what you think is
right thanks so much for being part of the Latino Heritage Month celebrations
for those of you who came here for a class the sign-up sheets are on the
table over there and there are so many people that I want to thank for being
for making this happen Sandra Rosado Audrey Pinto or really for
value of Ryan Castro fab Miller from lectures to bring someone for the Latino
community to the Latino community takes a lot of time takes a lot of money and
so if you wanna be involved and wanna be part of the Latino community and just
make us more noticeable I think that we need to stick together and we need to
help each other because seriously sometimes it’s just
just like five or six students working for this and I think we deserve better
and I think that we deserve to be noticed and I think we deserve to have
good speakers and one more thing I know I know that you want to live but you’re
young you’re not married you have the time of the world to start to make
things happen so you said thank you so much for being
here Luce is back and I also want you to I want to recognize Adam Burke who is my
Iowa co-producer and who has made life a lot simpler for me now and here is loose
Hernandez we use on the film

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