Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lutheran Pastor to Speak in Albuquerque about Faith Community's Response to 2008 Immigration Raid in Postville, Iowa

Photo: Chicago Religious Leadership on Latin America
On May 12, 2008, federal immigration officers dressed in  riot gear raided the Agriprocessors meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, and arrested nearly 400 people for alleged immigration violations.

The raid--which at the time was the largest single-site immigration operation in the country--affected many families in this community of slightly more than 2,000 residents in northeast Iowa. The raid left women, children and other dependents  without their principal breadwinner. "Leaders of the relief effort reported the workers' paychecks have stopped, and their families' greatest need now is cash to pay basic household expenses and medical costs," Decorah (Iowa) Newspapers said in an article published on May 18.
The faith community reacted with sense of outrage about the raid, both protesting the move and mobilizing  to help the families. Among those involved in the relief efforts was Rev. David Vázquez, then campus pastor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, who joined members of other faith communities in the area to form the Postville Response Coalition. Rev. Vázquez worked in areas of coordination, advocacy and legal support. The Postville incident became a symbol of the excessive punitive nature of our immigration laws and a rallying point for immigration reform.

Keynote Speaker at Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Conference
Rev. Vázquez will be the keynote speaker at the Advocacy 2014 conference in Albuquerque, sponsored by the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico. The half-day event will be held on Saturday, November 8, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church,  211 Jefferson NE (Jefferson & Copper) Map  Registration cost is $15 per person, including lunch. Session topics will include advocacy basics, hunger, immigration and more. 

To register or for more information, send your name and contact information to  The Registration Deadline is November 4.

Originally from Guatemala, Rev. Vázquez has served in places as diverse as rural Indiana, working for refugee resettlement in Canada, and an international community in southern Germany. He has spoken at various regional and national events around issues of immigration as well as youth and young adult culture, and focuses his research work on immigration as a central image in sacred texts.

Rev.  Vázquez, who was recently selected as the new president of Pacific School of Religion, has developed Bible studies from the perspective of  immigrants and refugees. His writings include Out of the Waters: Resisting the Power of Fear, a Bible study on the book of Exodus, published by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and 1 and 2 Samuel from the Books of Faith Bible Study Series by Augsburg Fortress Publishers and co-author with Diane Jacobson of Ruth, published under the same series.

He has also served as consultant on two documentaries related to the Postville raid, “abUSed: The Postville Raid” by Luis Argueta (see Vimeo below) and Vivian Rivas and "Guatemala: A Tale of Two Villages," by Greg Brosnan and Jennifer Szymaszek. 

Luis Argueta: "Postville Raid: U.S. immigration enforcement and the effects on immigrant children and families" from Fairhaven College, WWU on Vimeo.

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