May 12, 2009 |
A hodgepodge crowd gathers here twice a week for handouts just steps from City Hall and an empty kosher deli. Outside the local food pantry snakes a line of Guatemalans wearing court-ordered ankle monitors, imported workers from the Pacific island of Palau and unemployed town natives -- almost all there because of a dramatic raid that has left a deep mark in the way the U.S. views and deals with illegal immigration.
October 30, 2008 |
A kosher meatpacking plant that was the site of one of the nation's largest immigration raids was fined nearly $10 million over accusations that it violated state labor laws. Iowa Labor Commissioner Dave Neil assessed the civil penalties against Agriprocessors in Postville for what he called repeated violations of wage laws from January 2006 to June 2008. The fines are the latest trouble for Agriprocessors since the raid in which 389 people were arrested. In September, the plant owner and managers were charged with 9,311 misdemeanors alleging they illegally hired minors and let children younger than 16 handle dangerous equipment.
August 10, 2008 |
Luisa Lopez said no one asked about her age when she started working at the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant. She was 17, and within days she was on a fast-moving poultry production line, wielding a long, sharp pair of scissors. "They never told me how to use them," Luisa said in Spanish. "Things moved so fast, and I was always worried I would cut myself." Yesenia Cordero, whose round baby face makes her look even younger than her 16 years, also said age was never an issue at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant, which state officials allege employed dozens of underage workers in an "egregious" violation of labor laws.
May 25, 2008 |
The spacious new homes and pristine commercial strip that have transformed this northeastern Iowa town are a testament to the success of Agriprocessors Inc., the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant and the reason for a thriving local community of Hasidic Jews. But a federal raid this month that exposed a seemingly tacit agreement between the plant and an illegal-immigrant workforce has residents worried about the town's future. This community has fashioned itself as a cosmopolitan center on the Plains, where long-bearded rabbis, Latin American immigrants and German Lutherans have learned to live side by side.
March 13, 2008 |
The president of the Chino meatpacking plant that triggered the largest beef recall in U.S. history admitted Wednesday that crippled cows, which are more likely to carry disease, probably entered the food supply at his company. "Obviously my system broke down," said Steve Mendell, president of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., once a major supplier to the school lunch program. Mendell initially told a House oversight subcommittee that "downer" cows at his plant "were not slaughtered, ground or sold."
February 29, 2008 |
Agriculture Secretary Edward T. Schafer sparred with Senate lawmakers Thursday, insisting that regulations governing inspections of slaughterhouses are sufficient to ensure the safety of the nation's meat supply. Schafer rejected senators' calls to completely ban from slaughter any cattle unable to walk. "Downer" cows are at higher risk of carrying E. coli and salmonella bacteria and of having the wasting neurological illness known as mad cow disease.