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MCC Central States responds to ongoing effects of ICE raid in Iowa

Cathryn Clinton
January 13, 2009

AKRON, Pa. –  Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Central States is helping to support the families of people detained in a massive May 12, 2008, immigration raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.

A total of 389 workers at the plant were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on the grounds that they lacked documentation of citizenship or legal residency.

Shortly after the raid, MCC Central States provided $1,000 to Cedar Falls Mennonite Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to help pay for rent and groceries for affected families. The church worked with St. Bridget's Catholic Church in Postville, which distributes aid to affected families.

Since then, many families of detainees have struggled to pay rent and utility bills. The entire community has been affected, as Agriprocessors, the largest employer in Postville, has filed for bankruptcy and laid off nearly 1,000 employees.

MCC Central States is providing an additional $1,000 grant to First Mennonite Church of Iowa City to help affected families with rent and utilities. This money will be dispersed by St. Bridget's Catholic Church.

Analisa Gerig-Sickles, who attends First Mennonite Church, helped with St. Bridget's ministry to families affected by the raid. She made contacts with families, translated documents and used computer systems to track those in prison.

Gerig-Sickles said that families are continuing to struggle with the aftermath of the raid as family members are deported.

Karin Kaufman Wall, peace and justice education worker with MCC Central States, says that MCC is committed to helping churches respond to immigration raids.

"We hope that someday we will not be needing to respond to this kind of crisis," she says.