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Letter to the editor

By Staff | May 17, 2008

To the EDN:

The Postville immigration raid resulting in the arrest of 390 people is yet another example of a complex problem, with plenty of blame to go around. For years, Republican and Democratic presidents and congressmen have chosen to ignore this country’s broken immigration system. Foreigners, unemployed during their own country’s rotten economy, found all sorts of illegal ways to enter our country and find work in our towns in order to support their families. A few unethical employers, like Agriprocessors, Inc., took advantage, offering encouragement and even aid in deceiving U.S. Customs, because $5 and $6 an hour wages were of great benefit to them. In most cases, it was simply the fact that jobs were available, and both employers and workers benefited.

That’s what happened, and it turned out to be not such a bad thing. Iowa’s small towns, which had been about 99 percent white for over a hundred years, became diversified. We Iowans found out how interesting it is to meet people of different backgrounds, different nationalities, and even different languages.

Just today, I ate in the Demoney lunchroom with my grandson. He introduced me to the boy across the table and said his name correctly, with the proper Spanish pronunciation. “This is my grandma. This is Jesus.”

I told the boys I had a friend in Mexico named Jesus who taught people how to ride a cable through the trees into a cenote. This Jesus had not seen a cenote, and I explained that it was a fresh water pool for swimming, which all agreed sounded like great fun.

Jesus speaks perfect English, by the way. He said he goes to Mexico to visit his grandmother. I asked him if he speaks Spanish to his grandmother, and he said that he does. How wonderful to be fluent in two languages! How lucky that child is! She lives in a small town, and we drive our RV through many small towns. He could not remember the name of the town. I wish I knew, because I would love to meet Jesus’ grandmother, and tell her what a fine boy he is.

We Esthervillians don’t know anyone in the pictures of the workers and their families being held in Postville, but they look like people we know and respect. We firmly believe that our townspeople would not knowingly hire an illegal, but they might not recognize forged documents. We pray that every man, woman, and child in Estherville is “legal”. Each one of us should urge the politicos in Washington to find their way through this mess and come up with a plan designed to banish the bad guys and welcome the good guys.

The current heavy-handed approach reminds me of the story of the little boy who stopped his dad as he prepared to cut off the chicken’s head. The child knelt beside the stump and said the poor chicken, “Now this is going to hurt a little!”

It hurts us all.

Connie Greig