abUSed in Postville

A dear friend and colleague who lives in Decorah drives very frequently to Postville where she teaches English to immigrant workers and their families.  Her experience with the plight of the immigrant community is close up and personal.  She was totally engaged  when ICE raided the town in 2008.

So I heeded her word when she recommended I might better understand if I were to take a few minutes to watch a brief online introduction to abUSed: The Postville Raid.  The snippet itself is a gripping harbinger of  a full-length documentary that is about to premiere in Postville and Decorah.  Hers was good advice which I pass on to all who are concerned about social justice and what transpired in our neighbor community.

The filmmaker, Luis Argueta, is in Decorah and Postville next week, sharing his experience producing the record of this terrible event in the life of a small Midwestern city.  The press release delivers the message in words – the video goes beyond mere words:

abUSed: The Postville Raid tells the gripping personal tale of the individuals, the families and the town that survived the most brutal, most expensive and largest immigration raid in the history of the United States.  The film is not just about immigration, but about the rule of law, constitutional rights, workers rights, and due process.  Presenting the voices national experts and average individuals – many of them our neighbors in these communities – this film invites our reflection and response to one of the most significant historical events in our region.

In producing the film, Argueta’s intent was “to create a new narrative about immigrants and the political, economic and social forces behind our broken immigration system.  This narrative presents immigrants not as ‘those people’ but as ourselves; not as an enemy to be feared but as a helpful neighbor to be welcomed.  At the same time this narrative exposes the socio-economic and political forces that surround immigration.”  He believes that “by looking with compassion into the human face of immigration we will regain some of our own humanity.  By examining existing government policies, we will be fulfilling our role as citizens of a democracy.”

I have viewed abUSed three times now – for starts.  It is gripping.  Though I would love to be in the audience to interact with Luis Argueta, the experience of watching the film alone gives me pause to look within myself, reflection that lends itself to private viewing in front of a stark monitor that spends most of its time with far more prosaic communication.  And not having to drive to Postville or even Decorah in the Wicked Winter of 2011 makes me appreciate the wonders of web access to this video gem.

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