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An Immigration Raid and a Subpoena in Postville, Iowa


The Des Moines Register broke a story yesterday about how, prior to a raid by federal immigration authorities on a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, on Monday, the Postville Community School District was given a subpoena to turn over detailed information about students to the Iowa Division of Labor Services. The subpoena included a mandate to provide the names of students working at two apartment buildings that had been owned by a Postville school guidance counselor and sold to the CEO of Agriprocessors Inc., the same company that owns the plant that was raided this week.

I was curious if there was a connection between the subpoena and the immigration raid. In other words, did any information provided by school district officials, when they complied with the subpoena, get into the hands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents? And is this another incident where educators have been dragged into an area of federal law that is murky? What steps should school officials take in such situations to ensure that undocumented students get the free public education in this country guaranteed by the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe? (I've written about this issue in a Sept. 12, 2007, article for Education Week, "With Immigrants, Districts Balance Safety, Legalities.")

I followed up with my own interviews of Gail Sheridan-Lucht, an attorney for Iowa Labor Commissioner David Neil, and David Strudthoff, the superintendent of the Postville school system, to write a story about the immigration raid and the subpoena, which you can find here.

Ms. Sheridan-Lucht said she issued the subpoena to the school district as part of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Iowa Division of Labor Services into various labor practices of the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville. The investigation included the possible violation of state and federal child labor laws, Ms. Sheridan-Lucht said. (In fact, 12 minors were arrested at the plant during Monday's raid, according to federal officials.)

Mr. Strudthoff said he wasn't told about the impending immigration raid at the time that he was handed the subpoena in early April—and he doesn't know if information about Postville students, such as addresses and telephone numbers, was turned over to federal immigration authorities. Ms. Sheridan-Lucht said she couldn't comment on the issue because the labor investigation was still going on.

Roger L. Rice, the executive director of Multicultural Education, Training, and Advocacy Inc., a Somerville, Mass.-based immigrant advocacy group, pointed out to me in a phone interview that the Postville school district was served with a subpoena from a state agency, not a federal court. "I have never heard of this before," he said. "How many branches of the state of Iowa government are there? Can they all get this information? I don't think so."

Mr. Rice said he believes Postville school district lawyers should have gone to court "to quash the subpoena as a violation of [students'] privacy rights and their right to attend school."

But Michael A. Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston who specializes in immigration law, had a different take. "I am not against legitimate law enforcement, including enforcement of child labor laws," he wrote to me in an e-mail message. "If that is accomplished by a legitimate subpoena, I assume it has met the test of such requirements. That it involves immigration ... does not change the basics."


Very scary. There is no enforcement of Plyer vs. Doe at all. My school district requests passports, visa information, birth certificates, etc. That is all illegal in federal and state law. Do you think they care? No. They blatantly put their requests into the enrollment packet. There is no protection for students and their families.

The average annual cost per child for education is $7,161, totaling $109 billion to educate illegal aliens annually. The average cost of bilingual education is $1,200 per illegal student. U.S. schools annually educate 1.1 million illegal children.
-Tom DeWeese, President of American Policy Center.

A major cost factor in the conduct of school operations relates to the vast number of children of illegal immigrants in our classroom and the special-training dictates for many of those students being taught in their native language — some 82 languages in San Diego County, 112 languages in Los Angeles County. – North County Times, March 2008.

In New York City alone, more than 200 languages are spoken in the public schools.
–NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

What is much scarier than the supposed non-enforcement of Plyer vs. Doe is the non-enforcement of our immigration laws. They just crash thru our borders with empty pockets, demanding a free ride at the American citizen taxpayers' expense. Do you think they care? No. They just blatently request said handouts at the expense of Americans. There is no protection for American students and their families.

Excuse me? Working at a meatpacking plant and paying all of the same taxes 'citizens' do is looking for a free ride? As a former Iowan who worked as a social worker I could not begin to count the number of completely able-bodied 'citizens', living on welfare, that I counseled who refused to even consider applying for work in the meatpacking plants not to mention any number of other "dirty" jobs.

As a current resident of southern Arizona, Tucson Border Patrol Sector, Ground Zero for migrants and narcotraficantes let me enlighten you all. The children that zeezil refers to are overwhelmingly US citizens. Born here they grow up speaking English and, given a chance, they are the foundation of this country's future. I think z would like you to confuse legal immigrants who come here bringing their children with them with the migrants who cross our southern border out of the desperate need to feed their families back in their own countries. I'll give you a few stats. On average around 50% of people living in the countries of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua live on less than $1 per day. In Mexico that's about 100 pesos. The cost of one package of corn tortillas is 11.5 pesos. These folks have nothing to eat other than corn tortillas and maybe a little salt. I've visited the rural areas. I've seen the extreme poverty that NAFTA has left in its wake. I've also searched the desert here in June when the temperatures top 110F and it is literally impossible to carry enough water to cross the border and walk to any water source or population center. I've followed buzzards searching for lost migrants. The majority who die here are never found. Americans are victims of migrants? Give me a break. The one thing that we are truly in danger of is giving away all of our constitutional rights and protections because of this delusional paranoia about immigrants.

I understand the concern for the cost of public education, but this redundant complaint fails to mention the net positive economic impact migrants add to communities. Unfortunately, the majority of the media that feeds this hysteria relies on uninformed emotion. What is the fear? What would be the future of America if the public school system continues to produce uninformed, apathetic citizens? Who will steer this nation clear of further international boondoggles? As the world's "super power", should we insist that everyone speak English, or should we learn the world's languages?

Of course these illegal invaders are demanding a free ride. Everybody knows they are a net drain on American taxpayers, to the tune of over $100B per year. If the issue of illegal immigration were put to a referendum vote, American citizens would vote overwhelmingly to close the border and deport most illegals. But we aren't really a democracy now, are we? Big business and other special interests have their own agenda, and the American citizens are not not in the equation, at least yet.

Since illegal invaders have no moral inhibitions against stealing American SSN's, they also have no problem claiming bogus and "legitimate" witholding allowances on their W-4's. Therefore, at $6.00 per hour, they have minimal (if not zero) tax deductions taken out of their paychecks. If they get a "refund" check, they are actually stealing money from the government.

Since they crowd 10 - 25 into a rental residence, which tends to be in the lowest taxed areas of town, then their per capita rent paid towards local taxes is minimal if non-existent, meaning they are not even close to pulling their fair share towards paying for their kids' education and other local services. This burden, as everything else, falls upon the American taxpayers. In California, hospitals are closing by the dozens because of the financial burden illegals impose on the hospitals. The hospitals that do remain open, are forced to charge Americans more money, just to stay afloat.

Somehow, before the illegal invasions began in earnest during the early to mid 90's, the meat was getting butchered, the lawns were getting mowed and the toilets were getting cleaned. The only difference was, these jobs were being done by Americans at better than slave wages.

I don't really care about our status as a "super power" if all that just means is borrowing trillions from the Rothschild banks to finance wars in which we send our sons to die on the other side of the globe to protect Israel's borders while we leave our own borders unprotected. Besides, what kind of "super power" allows its own territory to be colonized and its own citizens displaced by its third-world neighbors? If these illegal invaders are really so miserable and overcrowded down there, does it really make sense to import that here?

I agree that we should end NAFTA. Bring those jobs back to the USA and in turn send back the invaders and their anchor babies. We also need aggressive prosecution of employers of illegals.

Bring our troops home from the mideast and put some on our border. This would help solve the drug crisis as well as the invasion. Any egghead Americans who feel the need to help illegal invaders at the expense of law abiding Americans should either face charges of treason or follow the deported invaders back to Mexico and Central America, where their egghead ideas can help them there. Problem solved. Comprende?

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